Centennial College’s kidsmediacentre launches Ethical Review for Children’s Digital Content Creators

Sep 5, 2013   //   by   //   Press Releases  //  Comments Off on Centennial College’s kidsmediacentre launches Ethical Review for Children’s Digital Content Creators

For Immediate Release – September 5, 2013 – Toronto, Ontario

The kidsmediacentre, a children’s industry research centre at Centennial College’s School of Communications, Media and Design in Toronto, today announced the launch of an Ethical Framework and Best Practice Review of the children’s digital industry in Ontario.

This is a groundbreaking ethics and privacy study for children’s digital media – a first in Ontario. At a time when youth are racking up big bills for in-app purchases or being rewarded with in-game currency if they post to Facebook, the report provides children’s content creators with a framework of marketing best practices and success criteria for ethical interactive development. The report also features case studies of more than 20 successful Ontario children’s publishers and in-depth reviews of key legal, child development and marketing practices. The report is funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) and Centennial College’s Applied Research and Innovation Centre.

The kidsmediacentre report coincides with the newly amended U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which took effect July 1, 2013. While COPPA is a U.S. regulatory framework, compliance is mandatory for Canadian developers who market interactive digital media (IDM) to children (under 13) south of the border and who specifically collect, use and disclose their personal information. The kidsmediacentre met with FTC and U.S. Safe Harbor regulators last month. The FTC made it clear the new regulations apply equally to developers of apps and online properties who use children’s personally identifiable information (PII) for marketing purposes (i.e. to serve ads, encourage information sharing, integrate social media features). It also promised prosecutorial action for developers in the U.S. and abroad (including Canada) who fail to comply and secure verifiable parental consent.

According to Debbie Gordon, Director of the kidsmediacentre, many new Ontario developers of kids’ digital media are unaware of the full range of privacy and legal guidelines. “The kidsmediacentre report reviews children’s privacy and personal information guidelines for COPPA and Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), providing regulatory overviews and guidelines for both” says Gordon. The report compares advertising regulations in the Canadian Broadcasting Act with the current regulation-free advertising landscape in apps. It also summarizes Apple (iOS) and Google Play (Android) age regulations and introduces developers to the concept of Safe Harbor. “We wanted the report to be a “one-stop shop” for Ontario developers eager to brush up on the wide swath of child-related marketing and regulatory considerations,” says Gordon.

The kidsmediacentre report reviews child development based learning outcomes that developers may want to consider when designing the game mechanics and emotional drivers that make up the user experience. The report looks at an ethical framework of choices (PIX Index) available to conscientious developers and the strong business case to be made for child-first – vs consumer-first – content creation.

Importantly, it considers the wide range of marketing and monetization tools being used by Ontario app and web site developers to reach young users and their parents. The kidsmediacentre interviewed twelve of the province’s top children’s digital producers to better understand their marketing and monetization practices and the legal, ethical and developmental considerations that frame the development of their interactive content. These interviews point to a significant range in awareness and attitudes around children’s marketing, particularly when it comes to incorporating social media and community brand-building tools. Interviews also shine a light on many of the successful, entrepreneurial developers using ethical development as their “north star” and key brand ethos.

The report is available on the kidsmediacentre website.

Interactive Ontario will be presenting highlights from the kidsmediacentre report and explore COPPA, PIPEDA and children’s digital privacy, at their iLunch, September 25, at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre in Toronto. More information on the event can be found here: ilunch121.eventbrite.ca

ABOUT: The kidsmediacentre at Centennial College is a groundbreaking research centre and think tank focused on exploring and optimizing the possibilities in children’s media. Working with Centennial’s ECE lab schools and the college’s post-graduate Children’s Entertainment Program, the kidsmediacentre provides creative market research solutions to help content producers develop children’s media rich in learning potential. As an academic centre, the kidsmediacentre also funds children’s industry start-ups tapping into federal and provincial commercialization grants with a goal of partnering talented, job-ready students with innovative, socially conscious developers.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debbie Gordon, Director, kidsmediacentre, [email protected], 416-289-5000 x 8770

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