Towards a better digital future: Informing the Age Appropriate Design Code

Information Commissioner's Office


To inform the development of ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code for online services, Revealing Reality was commissioned by the ICO to explore the views of parents, carers and children on a range of issues suggested by the government as areas for inclusion in the code.


The research identified that many children and their parents / carers wanted to use online services, with fear of missing out often outweighing concerns about data privacy. Views around the selected data privacy issues however were often inconsistent, and even the simple re-framing of a question could completely alter people’s perceptions of the issue.

The biggest challenge faced in this research was making complex and technical topics, that many adults struggle to understand, accessible and relevant to children as young as 3 years old. One of the ways we tackled this was by creating a number of versions of the research materials, tailored to specific age groups, and using offline scenarios that younger children were able to understand, which were then related to online concepts.

When we carried out the research, we were surprised by how much children were able to understand the concepts and talk about personal data issues. We often ended up using research materials that were designed for the older ages groups with younger children.