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Specialist Task Force 266: Guidelines for the design and use of ICT by children

Who we are: 

Team Leader : Anne Clarke  
Experts : Nicolas
Hine Bruno von Niman
Kari Hamnes

What we do :

The STF is funded by EC/EFTA to produce an ETSI Guide, EG 202 423, “Guidelines for the design and use of ICT by children”. The current draft can be found here.

The work is based on ETSI TR 102 133, “Access to ICT by young people: issues and guidelines”. It will take an approach similar to CEN/CENELEC Guide 6, “Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities” but applied to children.

A workshop to establish stakeholder and user requirements was held in ETSI headquarters in Sophia Antipolis (Nice, France) on 21st & 22nd June 2004.

A workshop to evaluate the guidelines was held on April 20 & 21, 2005 in Brussels.

Read our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

Social significance

Children (defined by the work of this STF as 12 years and younger) are rapidly becoming a significant consumer group for advanced computing and communications services. In some cases, children as young as four or five are using and are becoming increasingly dependent on ICT products and services. Products often take the form of or are "disguised" as toys, but far too often they are designed for the general user, i.e. able-bodied adults. Children are expected to use equipment and services designed for adults, that usually has inappropriate physical and cognitive ergonomics for their needs. The accessibility requirements for participation in ICT of this group are not currently clearly identified or catered for, partly because no developmental account of physical, cognitive and social maturation which exists have been readily applied to product design. Standards bodies are therefore unable to provide needed guidance for designers and developers. If the capabilities and characteristics of children are not taken into account this may result in problems such as inability to access services, service abuse, and vulnerability to exploitation on-line, failures in growth of relevant cognitive skills and physical damage from prolonged use of systems with inappropriate or inadequate physical terminal design.

The proliferation of broadband services at school and in the home will greatly increase the demand for child-specific guidelines. Life in front of a screen and keyboard (specifically e-learning and entertainment applications) consume a large portion of the average child’s day. The use of mobile broadband terminals and applications will further contribute to total exposure time. One can expect to see a more and a wider range of broadband services targeting children in the near future. The consequences of assuming that children adapt and adjust to the challenges of the broadband revolution and life ‘on-line’ in the same manner that adults do may not become evident until the present generation of children reaches maturity. It may then be too late to prevent negative side effects, such as physical injury, service abuse, resulting in threats to personal security and social exclusion.

The role of standardisation

National and international standards bodies have for many years addressed the needs of persons with disabilities and older people, developing specific standards in the areas such as assistive technology. Childhood, however, is invariably overlooked as a distinctive developmental stage requiring specific solutions founded on detailed knowledge of the child’s physical, cognitive and social development. Even the popular ‘design for all’ and ‘universal design’ approaches to product design often neglect the unique qualities of childhood and the specific needs of young people. Consequently, the needs of children must be properly understood and taken into consideration by standards bodies There is a need for early European human factors standardisation involvement. The ETSI Guide here proposed is intended to be part of the overall framework that standards bodies can use in their efforts to support the need for better, safer and more accessible ICT products and services for children.

This STF will address the central philosophy of the eEurope action plan.


“The Lisbon strategy is not just about productivity and growth but also about employment and social cohesion. eEurope 2005 puts users at the centre.  It will improve participation, open up opportunities for everyone and enhance skills.” eEurope 2005 


This project has the following key objectives:
  • To contribute to the implementation of the eEurope 2005 Action Plan in the area of e-inclusion;
  • To develop an ETSI Guide (EG) containing guidelines for designers, service developers and standardisers to address the needs of young people using information and communication technologies and services;
  • To actively involve all relevant stakeholders, and in particular representatives of the community of young people, into the standardisation process;
  • To promote a common approach with respect to the development followed by network providers and equipment manufacturers in developing products and services that respond to the specific needs of young people;
  • To address the risks of negative side effects to children, such as physical injury, threats to personal security, service abuse and social exclusion;
  • To facilitate the revision of European and international standards, with the view to better respecting the specific needs of young people using information and communication technologies and services;
  • To contribute to the design of safer and more accessible ICT products and services for children;
  • To create and increase awareness about children’s specific needs in the design and development of ICT solutions. 

Time plan for the work: 

March 2004 Start of work
May 2004 First public draft ETSI Guide
June 21-22, 2004 First Workshop (guidelines requirements verification - stakeholders' perspectives) at ETSI, Sophia-Antipolis, France
December 2004 Second public draft ETSI Guide
March 2005 Third public draft ETSI Guide
April 2005 (preliminary) Second Workshop (guidelines refinement and verification), Brussels, Belgium
May 2005 Final public draft (last chance to comment)
July 2005 Final draft ETSI guide approved (by ETSI TC HF)
August 2005 ETSI Membership Approval (voting) begins
September 2005 ETSI Membership Approval ends
October 2005 ETSI Guide published
Until December 2005 Dissemination activities

How to contact us:

If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader:

Other STFs currently working for TC HF

Note: this information is based upon STF working assumptions.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2012-02-09 15:34:18