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Children’s rights and the monetisation of play in the digital environment

Children all over the world are spending increasing periods of time engaged in play and creative activities in the digital environment. These playful experiences are increasingly monetised, exposing children to significant commercial and privacy risks.

This project will focus on three levels of monetisation of play: (1) encouraging children to spend money (e.g. in-app purchases); (2) capitalising on personal data (e.g. targeted advertising) and (3) exploitation through influencer work (e.g. exploitative contracts).

In relation to this, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (‘CRC’) grants children a right to play (art. 31 CRC) and to protection from economic exploitation (art. 32 CRC). However, as the CRC was drafted in a pre-internet era, the original interpretation of these rights has become outdated. Moreover, there is no guidance at the international level for States on how to operationalise these rights in their national laws.

Therefore, the envisaged research encompasses the following tasks: first uncovering any gaps in the existing legal framework applicable to the three levels of monetisation of play; second, gathering children views about their rights in their own contexts; third reconceptualising children’s rights to play and protection from exploitation in light of the monetisation of play in the digital environment; and fourth, operationalising these rights into regulatory solutions and design requirements for play providers (e.g. game designers).


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