Publications

To reimagine the digital environment in the best interests of children and young people, we focus our research on three areas: play in a digital world, beneficial uses of education data, and guidance for innovators. Our outputs from each of these work streams are informed by the voices of children and underpinned by research aimed at realising real world changes for children.

The Digital Futures Commission (DFC) held an expert roundtable discussion to discuss current governance and practice in processing children’s education data. This report presents the range of views expressed at the roundtable together with participants’ recommendations and useful sources. It offers an insight into our unfolding work on beneficial uses of children’s education data and reflects work in progress. We warmly thank all the experts who gave their time to participate in the roundtable. The discussion will shape the DFC’s ongoing research on governance gaps and stakeholder responsibilities and contribute to a blueprint for education data governance in 2022.

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The overall objective of the survey research was to assess what apps and games children and young people are currently using, how these are used for play and what other activities including non-digital play they undertake, together with background information on their well-being.

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The report looks at one of the most important aspects of a child’s development – free play – and how platforms succeed and fail in facilitating it. The purpose is to improve children’s opportunities for free play and overcome the inhibiting factors in digital services that children report.

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What are the qualities of free play that children enjoy in a digital world? Our new report sets out the 12 qualities of play, and shows how children have devised new ways to play during the pandemic, including with apps like Zoom. We call on those with the power to influence the digital environment to prioritise Playful by Design so that these qualities can thrive and benefit children.

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Governance of data for children’s learning in the UK state schools reports on significant regulatory and implementation gaps in data processing in education contexts. To bridge these gaps, the report identifies potential governance and oversight options for discussion. These options range from EdTech procurement rules for schools, legally binding (EdTech) sector-specific guidance, and codes of practice and standards.

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The Kaleidoscope of Play in a Digital World builds on the recent Digital Futures Commission report  A Panorama of Play which identified and explored the characteristics of free play and its importance in children’s lives. This report now identifies the possibilities and challenges of children’s free play in a digital world.

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Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) has been introduced as a tool for States and businesses to systematically consider child rights in their operations. Recognising CRIA’s potential, the Digital Futures Commission examines the feasibility and benefits of CRIA in the development and provision of digital products and services. This report identifies a pathway and resources for CRIA in the digital environment.

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The DFC is launching a consultation on play and invites children and young people, parents and carers, and professionals who work with children to share views on the opportunities to play in a digital world.

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Our first report, A Panorama of Play, reviews the rich history of ideas about free play and proposes the qualities of play that matter in a digital world.

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