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Specialist Task Force 323:
Specification and guidelines for service providers on
the provision of information services to young children 

Who we are:

Team Leader:    Emma Bond
Team Members:   Mona Hovland Jakobsen Anne Clarke  

What we do :

The STF is funded by EC/EFTA to produce an ETSI Technical Specification, DTS/HF-00089, “Specification and guidelines for service providers on the provision of information services to young children”. The current draft can be found here. By young children, we mean those between 4 and 12 years of age.

Two background state of the art reports have been produced:

1)     Age related Digital Competencies for young children in the knowledge economy. (Download here)

2)      ICT Product and Service Provision for young children in the knowledge economy. (Download here)

 These reports form the background information from which the Technical Specification has been derived.

 The work follows on from 2 previous STFs which resulted in the following publications:
 ETSI TR 102 133, “Access to ICT by young people: issues and guidelines”,
 ETSI EG 202 423 “Guidelines for the design and use of ICT by children”.
 ETSI White Paper “Young Children and ICT – current issues in the provision of ICT technologies and services for young children” 

A workshop to obtain consensus on the new specifications and guidelines will take place in Brussels on Wednesday 12th March. Further information and a registration form for this event can be obtained from the STF leader.

A submission was made to the European Commission’s Safer Internet Forum Industry Consultation on 30th May 2007 on behalf of ETSI TCHF outlining the current situation regarding safeguarding of young child users of ICT products and services.  This submission was based on the work of STF 323, and highlights the need for the development by the ICT industry of a child aware charter, based on ETSI and International Standards.  The main deliverable from ETSI STF 323 will be a Technical Specification.  All relevant stakeholders have given support for this approach.

This submission can be downloaded here.

Read our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

There is an urgent need for an ETSI TS on this topic, because:

  • young children (under the age of 12 years) are increasingly becoming a large part of the European market for ICT products and services;
  • the characteristics of this market segment are significantly different from those sectors which have to date been the major focus of  ICT product and service providers; in effect, young children are a protected market (for a discussion, see the ETSI White Paper above)
  • without adequate specification and guidance to service providers, there is a risk that the market will be restricted by ad-hoc over regulation by individual administrations, and, most significantly, that young children will face increasing risks of abuse through misuse of information products.

The telecoms sector needs to achieve consensus with child advocates on how access to this market sector should be approached, on appropriate provisioning and deployment activities, and on how to appropriately deal with consumers who are children, especially those under the age of 12 years. In addition, parents and child agency advocates need to agree codes of practice with service providers which will encourage confidence in parents and guardians that their children can safely and securely use ICT products and services. There is an urgent need for a consensus activity, between service providers, and child representatives, in order to enable operation of the market for ICT products and services for young children.

This project provides for short, intensive, and inclusive set of actions, working with all the relevant stakeholders, to reach consensus on specification and guidelines for provisioning of ICT products and services for this important market segment.

A number of documents provide general human factors guidelines for the design of ICT products and services, e.g. EG 202 116. The specific issue of designing for children was addressed by ETSI STF 266. However, there is an emerging need for more specific information on how to address the deployment and provisioning issues in this unique market. For example, children as consumers are, in most cases, unable to engage legally in online transactions, or to interact meaningfully with customer support services which are designed for mature adults. In addition, there are new issues for service providers in relation to children and emerging ICT services, such as location based services.

This STF will address the central philosophy of the eEurope action plan.  Specifically, children under 12 are being encouraged to be full participants in the information society, and they will have access to services in both supervised (schools) and unsupervised (libraries, and on the move) situations.  It is essential that this work takes place to ensure that young children are included in the future knowledge economy, but not at a cost to their well being and development.

Objectives:

This project has the following key objectives:

  • To develop an ETSI Technical Specification containing guidelines for service providers on provisioning and deployment to address the needs of young children using information and communication technologies and services;
  • To define a set of Digital Competencies relevant to a child’s developmental needs; these will provide direct support for service providers to understand the needs of child users at each stage of their development;
  • To actively involve all relevant stakeholders, and in particular children’s representatives into the standardisation process;
  • To provide minimum standards of self-regulation for service providers who seek to address this market;
  • To produce deliverables to EC/EFTA in the form of an Interim and a Final Report that will also provide the publication version of the ETSI TS.
  • To engage in widespread dissemination activites.

Time plan for the work:

February 2007 Start of work
June 2007 First public draft ETSI Technical Specification
February 2008 Second public draft ETSI Technical Specification
March 2008 Concensus Workshop on Technical Specification
March 2008 Final public draft (last chance to comment)
June 2008 Final draft ETSI Technical Specification approved (by ETSI TC HF)
August 2008 ETSI Technical Specification published
Until December 2008 Dissemination activities

How to contact us:

We welcome participation in our work. If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader: e.bond@ucs.ac.uk

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