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12 Reasons We Should Invest In Children As Equal Partners In The Design Of Social Care Tech

04 Jul 2019

As part of my recent research I undertook workshops with children and young people to find out about the principles of design for social care apps. Let me firstly say there are only a few social care apps freely available and those that are rarely are co-produced with children and young people. What I discovered is that are some fundamental deficiencies in the interface of designs, that are not currently meeting the needs of children. If we take the standardised social care systems that are used daily by social care practitioners, we may find some that are easy to use and others where professionals just create ‘workarounds’ or ‘cut and paste’.

The frustrations of what is currently in place constantly make me wonder why we don’t then do things differently. For instance, there is academic research such as computer child interaction, but none that is set in the context of social care. So, if we take a hybrid of social care, tech and children, we can combine this into a new way of thinking. Let the journey of social care tech begin with the child and be created by them, in a way that is comfortable for them…

  1. Children and young people are experts in their own right when it comes to how they want tech to work.
  2. Childhood today is a technical social childhood space, that is still emerging and was not available to the adults of today.
  3. Children and young people have the innocence of their imagination, which is more free and vivid than us adults.
  4. If us adults as professionals are open to active engagement together with children and young people, we can truly create a bottom up approach.
  5. There would be so many more accessible apps and technical ways to do our work of safeguarding the most vulnerable.
  6. There is a much-needed space, both in children’s and teenager computer interaction, for the conversations to continue both in the academic world and front-line practise.
  7. If we view children and young people as ‘competent’, we just might be able to see content in a unique child friendly format.
  8. Children and young people understand that tech can teach them all sort of new things, including mitigating risks to keep themselves safe.
  9. Children use tech to maintain and sustain relationships and this is possible to do with professionals and not only family and friends.
  10. Having fun and enjoyment is an essential part of design and usability and the ones best placed to advise on this are children and young people themselves.
  11. Children and young people want to be in control of their information and when to share their information. They can do this through treating them as an equal and telling us how to design app on how and when to share information.
  12. Be able to offer apps that are entirely focused on design principles from a child’s perspective.

I believe there is a need for social care to catch up in the app market and further development of social care systems, where the child is central to the design and development and allows their voice and expert opinion to be written into the architecture from the start. Furthermore, that this true partnership is open to all children and young people and not those just who have been through the system and are looked after children. There is a lack of creative forms of technology within the social care sector, especially for social workers engaging with children. Let’s put children at the centre, lets honour them by creating with them and not ‘do to’ or ‘at’ them, lets communicate in real time with children and let’s embrace digital immediacy. We never know what social impact and outcomes this could progress.

If you or your organisation is interested in investing in your children and young people and what to engage with social care tech for them, please get in touch.

2 comments

colin 17 Jul 2019

Bless You Sarah. Love and Light, colin.


Deb Willey 17 Jul 2019

We work in a deprived area and have a lot of children coming into the practice on a daily basis. We have a very good reputation with the local schools regarding safeguarding. I always find your articles very interesting and pass them on to my colleagues within the dental practice.


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