Enabling meaningful child and youth participation within
companies in the digital era

“As we see the emergence of new frontiers of digital innovation and the continued extension of childhood into online environments, children and young people, their interests and involvement, must come first if we are to achieve a sustainable digital future.”

Julia Goldin

Global Chief Product & Marketing officer at The LEGO Group



This report is a practical tool intended for businesses that are embarking on a journey towards meaningful child participation and experiencing the challenges that come with it.

Children are asking to be heard. It’s time for businesses to sit up, listen, and learn.



What is meaningful child participation?

Why is it important for children and businesses in relation to the digital environment?

What are the key challenges to achieving this?

How can businesses overcome these challenges?


With contributions from experts at...

Child Consultation and Responsible Business Conduct in the Digital Environment: Rights, Risks, and Opportunities

Josie Galea Baron • Fabio Friscia

Will UX Teach Us How to Get to Sesame Street? Investing in Child-Centered Research to Develop Sesame Street’s Digital Design

Sesame Workshop

10 Principles to Recognise Children’s Creativity and Their Universal Rights in Design

Wouter Sluis–Thiescheffer

The Kids First Approach to Co-creation

Toca Boca

Making the Voice of Children and Young People Matter in the Better Internet for Kids Initiative

Hans Martens

“Children Are Our Role Models”: Child Participation Through Culture, Co-creation and Inspiring Change

The LEGO Group

The Children and Young People Panel: What We Have to Say

The Children and Young People Panel

Engaging Children Cross Culturally in The Design of Products

Prof. Amanda Third

Neurodiversity and Inclusion in Digital Playrooms: Practices in Virtual Learning

Play Pattern

KidTech: The Next Generation of Compelling and Safe Digital Products

Super Awesome

How to Understand What Is Meaningful to Your Audience: An Honest Conversation


15 Ways to Engage Youth Within Your Company and Why You Should Do It

Sandra Cortesi

Empower: Privacy for Young People


Crafting AI Systems With Children: Experimenting With a Distributed Ecosystem of Actors

Vicky Charisi

Crafting AI Systems With Children: Design of the Empathetic Robot Haru

Honda Research Institute Japan

Telia Children’s Advisory Panel: Giving Children a Voice About Their Online Lives

Telia Company



How and why we made this report



Why we chose our expert contributors


Panel of Children and Young People

How we engaged children and young people for the report




Supporting children’s rights

Child participation is a right that every child has. Businesses that prioritise meaningful child participation, empower, and enable children and young people demonstrate their commitment to the rights of the child.

Increase brand reputation and trust

Prioritising meaningful child participation will help to foster a sense of community and collaboration between children and young people, parents/caregivers, and business. This is critical to maintaining trust with consumers in a rapidly evolving and complex digital environment.

Enabling better products

Engaging regularly and meaningfully with children and young people is essential for understanding how they use digital technology. This increases the likelihood that products and services meet their needs, protect their rights, and foster their well-being. It will also make it more likely that digital experiences remain relevant for children and families.

Boosting employee creativity and motivation

Engaging with children and young people can significantly increase both the creativity and motivation of employees as they learn and become inspired. Equally, delivering meaningful child participation supports companies’ responsibility agenda and commitment to children’s rights, building a strong sense of pride in working for the organisation.

Achieving sustainable collaboration

Through collaborative research and design relationships, organisations can create content, regardless of technology, curricular focus, or target population, built to fit those who will use it.


Increased safety and well-being

Designing experiences meant for children and young people with children and young people is more likely to promote safety and well-being outcomes for all those who engage with it. A key part of this comes through products and services that understand and adapt to children’s unique needs, creating appropriate experiences that empower children.

Empowered through inclusion

Meaningful participation will better highlight the variety of user needs, cultivating a deeper sense of inclusion and belonging amongst children and young people, parents, and caregivers. Children are more likely to see themselves reflected in the digital products and services they are using.

Opportunities for learning
and skill development

Bringing children into the product and service development process and business environment, even for a short time,  provides the opportunity to apply their innate creativity and curiosity, and to be recognised and supported in doing so. They also have the opportunity to learn how digital products and services are designed and developed in the workplace, inspiring potential future designers.

Social connectivity

Participatory frameworks allow for children and young people to engage with others, whether with other children or with their parents and caregivers, in a collaborative environment. Working on a project together can create strong social connections.

Fun and joyful

Let’s not forget that engaging with companies that make digital products and services that children and young people enjoy can be fun if the right space is created where children can thrive.


Max Bleyleben

Managing Director & Chief Privacy Officer

Super Awesome

Aimee Bryan

Head of Play Propositions, Creative Play Lab

The LEGO group

Vicky Charisi

Research Scientist Joint Research Centre European Commission

European Union

Sam Clough

Strategic Insight Director

Super Awesome

Sandra Cortesi

Director of Youth and Media

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Aimee Duran

Sr. Privacy Program Manager


Quentin Felton

Creative Computing Educator

Play Pattern LLC

Kim Foulds, Ph.D.

Vice President
Content Research and Evaluation

Sesame Workshop

Fabio Friscia

Adolescent Development and Participation Manager


Josianne Galea Baron

Programme Specialist Child Rights and Business


Randy Gomez

Principal Scientist

Honda Research
Institute Japan

Emi Gunér


Toca Boca

Maria Hallgren

Head of Marketing

Toca Boca

Dr Ronah Harris

CEO, PlayPattern LLC

Adjunct Lecturer, New York University

Dan Jacobs

Research Executive


Petter Karlsson

Senior Play Designer

Toca Life World

Hans Martens

Head of Digital Citizenship

European Schoolnet

Becca Seibert Nast

Manager Content Research

Sesame Workshop

Roshni Patel

Creative Computing Educator

Play Pattern LLC

Chris Payne

Director, Digital Responsibility, Government and Public Affairs

The LEGO group

Emily Reardon

User Experience

Sesame Workshop

Heddy Ring

Sustainability Manager Children’s Rights Lead

Telia Company

Pete Robinson

Chief Strategy Officer


Wouter Sluis-Thiescheffer

Professor Media Design

HAN University of Applied Sciences

Rebecca Stringer

Research Director


Prof. Amanda Third

Professorial Research Fellow

Institute for Culture and Society and Co-Director, Young and Resilient Research Centre, Western Sydney University

visions for the future

Consulting children as part of child rights due diligence in relation to the digital environment is not only increasingly expected of companies to demonstrate responsible conduct, but also promises to be a valuable tool in identifying and managing child rights risks arising from digital technologies, while creating value for business. As children’s engagement with digital technologies, for everything from education to entertainment, promises to continue growing over the coming years, action on these issues could not be more urgent or timely.

says Josianne Galea Baron and Fabio Friscia

Through collaborative research and design relationships with children — even very young children, and sometimes in partnership with their caretakers — organisations can develop meaningful, positive digital play and learning experiences that are optimised to children’s needs.

says Kim Foulds, Becca Seibert Nest, Emily Reardon of Sesame Workshop

To design something truly creative and, at the same time, inclusive of children’s needs, let’s include children’s creativity and their rights in the design process.

says Wouter Sluis-Thiescheffer

Providing kids free rein and letting them figure things out their way works and even better; it makes kids and their creativity thrive.

says Emi Gunér, Maria Hallgren, Petter Karlsson of Toca Boca

Voice is not enough. In our view, one promising way forward is to require companies and governments to make youth participation part of so-called child rights impact assessments when a new digital product, service, or policy that may directly or indirectly impact children’s rights is designed, deployed, or evaluated.

says Hans Martens

Digital technology creates an opportunity to empower children and to foster their well-being on a whole new level, but unless we collectively put children front and centre, we risk missing out on this opportunity.

says Chris Payne, Aimee Bryan of The LEGO Group

Take our ideas seriously and keep us in the conversation. Children know children best!

says the Children and Young People Panel

Sustained cross-cultural child participation can deliver deep and enduring value for children, businesses, and communities. Ultimately, for all parties to benefit, private enterprise needs to redouble their efforts to work ethically with children to realise their rights, to connect with diverse communities, and to invest more consistently in child participation.

says Prof. Amanda Third

Companies should learn that neurological variations are a common aspect of the brain and seek to include and affirm the needs of people with variations rather than treating them as having conditions that need to be cured.

says Dr Ronah Harris

Opportunities to engage with kids in their native digital space are boundless, and the scope for digital ethnography, observing how kids and young people behave and interact, is particularly exciting. Engaging with them at the actual point of consumption in their natural environment, with new innovative interaction formats, will bypass some of the artificiality of current research practices. Metaverse platform research will also enable global research at a scale not seen before.

says Max Bleyleben, Sam Clough of Super Awesome

Research methods shouldn’t ask a child, or anyone, to step out of their world into the research world. Additionally, it is imperative to make sure children are part of the process in an explicit way. That’s going to be the next big step in the world of research data, people understanding the information, the data they are providing, and the research and brand world understanding the value and paying for it as well.

says Rebecca Stringer, Dan Jacobs, Pete Robinson of KidsKnowBest

Company leaders who seek to explore this field further are encouraged to take a pragmatic approach in terms of “thoughtful experimentation.” Start somewhere concrete and learn over time. “Build, iterate, and expand” is the credo in the emerging theory and practice of youth engagement.

says Sandra Cortesi

Listening to young people tell their stories gives us insight on what digital skills they have and what skills they are developing. We believe designing resources meant for young people WITH young people is an opportunity to create better engagement on the choice and controls available to our young customers and greater privacy transparency for a safer internet for all.

says Aimee Duran of Microsoft

A diverse ecosystem of actors can be the drive towards two mutually reinforcing goals, the advancements for AI for good and the benefits for the best interest of all children. 

says Vicky Charisi

Children can create a future with equal opportunities. We must equip them with tools that reflect equality, rather than the biases of the past. We dream of a future where humans have bridged the cultural divides and stand united with the aid of our empathic robots in a hybrid society.

says Randy Gomez of Honda Research Institute Japan

Be curious and open to learning from children. Don’t do it as a formality, but really listen to children and young people and try to understand their perspectives. It will be valuable, and you can use it in many ways to improve the business and the lives of children.

says Heddy Ring of Telia Company

Engaging Stakeholders on Children's Rights

This tool offers guidance to companies on engaging stakeholders on children’s rights as part of enhancing their standards and practices at both the corporate and site levels.


Business and Children’s Participation

This guide serves to inspire businesses and civil society organisations (CSOs) interested in respecting and supporting children’s rights and, specifically, the child’s right to be heard as it relates to the ten Children’s Rights and Business Principles that were prepared by UNICEF, the UN Global Compact, and Save the Children.


Child Safeguarding Toolkit for Business

This toolkit​​ is a practical tool that allows companies to identify, assess, and address risks to children they interact with, guiding companies through six steps in the process of assessing their safeguarding risks and developing a child safeguarding program.


Children’s Participation Guide

Practical guidance from a corporate perspective with the aim of developing a better understanding of current business practices of children’s participation.


The Future of Childhood in the Digital World

In this collection of essays, global experts from a range of fields set out their vision for a digital world that includes nearly a billion children and young people.


Age-appropriate design with youth

The best-practice guideline on age-appropriate design with youth explores ways to engage meaningfully with and involve young people in co-design processes for online services and the rationale for adopting this approach.


Designing for Children’s Rights Guide

An evolving guide that aims to refine a new standard for both design and business to direct the development towards products and services that have ethics and children’s best interests at their core.


Youth Participation In a Digital World

The paper highlights four specific models of youth participation: youth labs, learning and co-design spaces, youth boards, and participatory research.


Play Test With Kids

Playtest with Kids is a toolkit designed to enable teams to create great products by conducting meaningful research with kids.


How To Write a Child-Friendly Document

In this guidance, we are focusing on written child-friendly versions of documents. These are usually short, visually appealing to children, summaries of another document, written in simple language that children understand. This guide describes a process for producing these documents with children acting as advisors.


Artificial Intelligence and the Rights of the Child

This report proposes an integrated agenda for research and policy on Artificial Intelligence and Children’s Rights, with a focus on key requirements, methods for implementation and knowledge gaps for future steps.


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Packed with over 20 essays and top tips from industry leaders