Ambessa Play is a social enterprise that designs DIY STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) toy kits for kids. Children are our co-designers and come up with amazing ideas and suggestions for our kits!
For the last three months, we have partnered with qLegal and a Year 5 classroom in London, to design children-friendly privacy policies. qLegal consists of postgraduate law students at Queen Mary who work to provide support to start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The law students were first introduced to the design thinking process by Karen Watton, director of qLegal. The students later split into two groups, Team Cubs and Team Marvels and worked with us and the Year 5 classroom of 30 children aged 9-10 years of age, over a series of three workshops.
The first workshop consisted of learning about their current understanding of personal data, and privacy. This began with an ice breaker exercise using Shrek and Olaf where the Year 5 classroom shared what they thought to be Shrek’s personal data.
Children were consistently reminded that their voice and expertise were most important and they could anonymously critically evaluate the law students’ final policies presented. A qualitative research methodology took place in which teams communicated real-life scenarios regarding privacy online.
- Children cared about their privacy and would love to learn more about privacy
- Concern for commercial bodies i.e. specifically “Amazon, YouTube and what they do with their data”
- No awareness of their rights i.e. to withdraw consent
- The year 5 class previously learnt ‘stranger danger’ information so had some understanding of online safety.
The law students then split into two teams and worked with tables of children in the class, as to how they would rather learn about privacy. There were suggestions of a video format, quiz format, including animals or characters so it’s “easy to follow”. The classroom was engaged and excited to share their ideas.
The law students returned with mock-ups of their suggestions to which the Year 5 students provided honest feedback. Children explained “I want to not be given lots and lots of text” or “I want to clearly understand what is going on”. Several children suggested a quiz format would help them test their knowledge but it shouldn’t include scores for example so it’s “not like a school test”.
The two teams designed incredible policy mock-ups and presented their work in the final session. The year 5 classroom provided feedback for each team and voted which one they preferred and why. Team Cubs designed a storytelling/comic book version and Team Marvels designed an interactive quiz. Both teams worked with graphic designer Zeynep Oya Bayraktar to bring the kids’ ideas to life.
Gagandeep, a Queen Mary University postgraduate law student who took part in the qLegal programme also shared his views:
The qLegal training we received, particularly the legal design workshops, called for a mixture of convergent and divergent thinking. The training, in combination with the research we carried out with the Year 5 classroom, allowed us to craft a solution. The entire experience was refreshing because I was able to explore an area of law, data protection, which I have not engaged with at length previously. I also found the experience to be eye-opening, as I discovered that children in 2022 are growing up in a vastly different world to the one that I grew up in. Therefore, their educational needs are different.
It truly felt like we were creating a meaningful impact on the classroom. Hopefully, this extends to all children that visit Ambessa Play’s website. By virtue of this challenge, I learned some key things. Firstly, most children [in the UK] have access to an internet-enabled device. Secondly, it is important for lawyers to consider how to make the law digestible for children. The risk, otherwise, is that the next generation of kids are unaware of the rules that protect them; and in an increasingly connected world this is an unacceptable position.”
A huge thank you to Ushna at Knight Dragon and Benedetta at the Design District London.
qLegal Team: Karen Watton and Disha Vaghela
qLegal students: Nidanur yildiz Tokgoz, Alex DelipAllas-O’Donnell,
Gagan Nar, Nabrine Koroma, Harsh Satish Chadha, Mukthar Mustapha, Barbora Korcova, Shreya Sharma.
Illustrations by Zeynep Oya Bayraktar.
Volunteers: Simran Motiani, Kavya Jain and Samuel Buyoya