Children and the Internet

It’s probably not a surprise to hear that Ofcom’s recent report on children’s media habits revealed that 12-15 year olds ‘spend an estimated 17 hours a week online’ — and 80% of this age group have a social networking profile.

Furthermore, there has been a 50% increase in smartphone ownership amongst this age group, and a 9% rise in the number of children aged between the ages of 5-15 who use tablets at home. Even our 3-4 year olds are tech savvy, with 37% going online using PCs, laptops and tablets. (Read the full Ofcom report.)

These statistics got us thinking about the best ways to harness some of the time that children are spending online. Subsequently we stumbled upon Apps For Good — a not-for-profit organisation launched in 2011 that works with schools, and is supported by the likes of Dell and O2.

We think this is great programme, which empowers our youth by asking them to solve problems and issues they encounter using technology. Apps For Good go into schools and ask young people to think about what is wrong with their world, and they then get the students to design apps which can help to solve the issues they’ve identified. The programme leaders do not set agendas or themes; the aim is for the students to identify and address problems that they confront in their lives.

The course facilitates young people to develop key skills such as problem solving, entrepreneurship and team work — hence providing them with valuable experience, which can help in their future careers.

The scheme has successfully launched a number of Apps that deal with common issues our children face on a daily basis, from bullying to checking your Oyster card is in credit.

This is an innovative approach to problem solving, which results in young people creating Apps for the greater social good.

We have had the opportunity to work on various projects over the last year or two that have involved going out and testing with children. It’s always been a fascinating experience, as all of the rules and our assumptions go out of the window! At Code we think that a successful piece of work has to be user centric — therefore, when designing apps and sites for children it’s important to make sure they are part of the design process.

If you want to get involved with Apps For Good, they are currently looking for designers, developers, marketers and entrepreneurs to help out by offering guidance to the students over Skype in 30-60 minutes feedback sessions.