From its advent, computer technology has transformed our world more than any other force . In 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that Generation M2, that is children and youth (8-18 years), spend about 7.5 hours a day using digital media . Since 2010 that number has steadily increased. It may be startling to think that in industrialized nations this generation grew up with no memory of a time before the internet and smart phones . The digital resolution has affected most aspects of the M2’s everyday lives not only in industrialized countries but also, increasingly, in developing countries. For example, UNICEF found that 40% of Vietnamese children in rural areas used the internet for educational purposes , and likely many more have access through family members’ cellular phones.
As designers, researchers, designers, developers, and users of interactive technologies, the HCI community is linked in myriad ways to Generation M2’s use of interactive technologies. The breakneck speed of innovation seen in research domains combined with the rise of awareness of the importance of involving children and youth as participants in research (e.g. [4,5]) raises both longstanding and unique ethical concerns, many of which are not known to the HCI community . Children’s and youth’s rights to participate and be protected in research has been guided by declarations for over 50 years (e.g. United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child ; Declaration of Helsinki ; United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ). Yet HCI research involving the M2 generation creates new challenges that have not been addressed in existing guidance. Consider the case in which a wearable EEG-based mobile neurofeedback app is developed to help young children living in poverty learn to self-regulate anxiety and attention in order to improve educational outcomes . The case raises both longstanding issues, such as: How to adequately get assent from a population that cannot fully understand the risks or benefits of the research? What is a researchers’ responsibility to maintain research-based interventions in low SES communities once the initial research is complete? It also raises new issues, such as: How might neurodata that represents internal brain states that may or may not be modifiable impact a child’s sense of agency, identity, and epistemic authority?
Another underexplored issue is the cultural and philosophical lenses that we as researchers hold about science, technology and children, either implicitly or explicitly, when we plan and implement research. For example in  Frauenberger makes a compelling case for a critical realist conceptualization of disability (e.g. autism) that … “serves the project as guiding principle in planning and conducting workshops or studies in an ethically and morally responsible way.” The importance of this issue was evident during the 2018 CHI Roundtable on Ethics , in an animated discussion on the importance of cultural perspective. Scholars of childhood also urge for the consideration of how children’s and young people’s interactions with new technologies are firmly located in wider settings of cultural and social processes: the institutional organization of childhood, schooling, family, and the different uses of private and public space . It is imperative we each examine our own philosophical and cultural perspective, which may be unconscious, to avoid developing ethics guidance that is insensitive to the cultures of childhood and/or assumes either a techno-determinist or utopian vision of the future.
It is clear that ethics in HCI for children and youth cannot keep up with the speed in which new ethical challenges arise, nor are most researchers versed in guidance for longstanding issues. Yet over the last few years there has been a rising awareness through keynotes, panels, and SIGs in our community of the importance of proactively considering ethical issues and moral perspectives in HCI for children and youth (e.g. [1,8,13]). The challenge to address ethics in HCI is shared with the rest of the HCI research community – as the CHI 2018 roundtable indicated in terms of it’s goals … “the development of community norms for research ethics in the face of evolving technology and methods.” We argue that this work is even more critical when we are dealing with vulnerable populations such as minors.
This workshop is the first formal gathering to address these challenges within the broader HCI community. In alignment with the SIGCHI Ethics Committee our aim is to facilitate discussion around research ethics within the community. Thus, the motivation for this workshop is to have time and space to flesh out and create an agenda, connect preliminary working groups with members from academe and industry, share and review processes that focus on minors in HCI, and begin to draft relevant ethical guidance for research practice.
We seek to bring together individuals who work closely with children and youth through research, design, and deployment of interactive technologies in both industrialized and developing countries. Specifically our goals are to:
- Bring forward cases that reveal ethical challenges and discuss dilemmas and issues encountered
- Identify ethical priorities to direct the development of processes and guidelines
- Reveal the role cultural and philosophical perspectives play in developing guidance
- Discuss existing governance that may apply
- Commence with the development of culturally sensitive guidance including research practice and review-based norms for the field
- Formalize a preliminary working group
- Commit to the dissemination of norms (e.g. ACM Interactions, special issue of IJCCI on Ethics).