How Should We Support Designing Privacy-Friendly Apps for Children? Using a Research through Design Process to Understand Developers' Needs and Challenges

Research by design


Mobile apps used by children often make use of harmful techniques, such as data tracking and targeted advertising. Previous research has suggested that developers face several systemic challenges in designing apps that prioritise children’s best interests. To understand how developers can be better supported, we used a Research through Design (RtD) method to explore what the future of privacy-friendly app development could look like. We performed an elicitation study with 20 children’s app developers to understand their needs and requirements. We found a number of specific technical requirements from the participants about how they would like to be supported, such as having actionable transnational design guidelines and easy-to-use development libraries. However, participants were reluctant to adopt these design ideas in their development practices due to perceived financial risks associated with increased privacy in apps. To overcome this critical gap, participants formulated socio-technical requirements that extend to other stakeholders in the mobile industry, including parents and marketplaces. Our findings provide important immediate and long-term design opportunities for the HCI community, and indicate that support for changing app developers’ practices must be designed in the context of their relationship with other stakeholders.

Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. Volume 7. Issue CSCW2. Article No 275. pp 1-29
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