IGF 2023 Open Forum #52 RITEC: Prioritizing Child Well-Being in Digital Design

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (23:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (00:30 UTC)
WS 8 – Room C-1

Panel - 60 Min


In the digital era, childhood moves fluidly between the virtual and physical playgrounds, with the social lives, entertainment and educational needs of children increasingly found online. This session will introduce the concept of well-being for children in the digital age before going on to examine its importance when we consider the centrality of digital technologies in children’s lives and the rapidly growing concerns around online harms. It will then examine how a holistic understanding of children’s well-being can be embraced by business and governments, to drive digital innovation that is designed to promote benefits in addition to preventing and addressing online risks. To unpack the notion of child well-being and show why it is an important concept for internet governance regimes to incorporate, the LEGO Group and UNICEF will discuss their joint Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) initiative, a research project which aims to create practical tools for businesses and governments that will empower them to put the well-being of children at the center of digital design.

The approach taken will include:

Part 1: presentations from panelists on online safety and well-being by speakers and then a discussion session will be convened to exchange on perceived challenges and opportunities.

Part 2: once panelists have discussed the risks and opportunities, a speaker will walk participants through the RITEC research on how games can positively influence children’s well-being.

After Part 2, questions and interventions from the online and onsite audience will be encouraged. 

Online speakers (presented on a screen on stage) will be afforded a chance to speak and answer questions by the moderator, treated as if they were in the room. An online moderator will monitor chat and questions to ensure participation from online attendees. 

Additional resources: 

The new European strategy for a better internet for kids (BIK+)



Josianne Galea Baron, UNICEF, International Organization; Adam Ingle, the LEGO Group, Private Sector

  • Adam Ingle, The LEGO Group
  • Aditi Singh, Young Advocate, Dream Esports India and Esports Monk
  • Professor Amanda Third, Western Sydney University
  • Sabrina Vorbau, EUN
  • Shuli Gilutz, PhD, UNICEF 
Onsite Moderator

Josianne Galea Baron

Online Moderator

Afrooz Kaviani Johnson


Adam Ingle



Targets: The RITEC project (a multi-stakeholder partnership that emphasizes child participation in decision-making) addresses the linkage between children's well-being and the design of digital play experiences. Within this, protecting children from violence is a key component.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
In addition to the clear and urgent need to identify and address online risks and harms for children associated with the digital environment, sustained multisectoral efforts that prioritize child participation, including research, are required to adequately understand and leverage the positive value that digital experiences can deliver for children’s well-being in a digital age.
Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)
1. To designers of digital play: consider the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project outputs, in particular the children’s well-being framework, in your decision-making processes. 2. To governments: consider how to create an enabling environment for businesses to prioritize children’s well-being in digital design.
Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

RITEC: Prioritizing Child Well-Being in Digital Design

Open Forum #52 - Session Summary


  • Adam Ingle, The LEGO Group
  • Aditi Singh, Young Advocate, Dream Esports India and Esports Monk
  • Professor Amanda Third, Western Sydney University
  • Sabrina Vorbau, EUN
  • Shuli Gilutz, PhD, UNICEF 

Purpose: The session introduced the concept of well-being for children in the digital age before going on to examine its importance when we consider the centrality of digital technologies in children’s lives and the rapidly growing concerns around online harms. 

Part 1: Setting the scene on child safety and well-being in a digital age

This part commenced with Aditi Singh, Young Advocate, describing her own experiences with online gaming and how, from a young age, games pushed her critical thinking and collaboration skills and enabled her to grow intellectually and socially. However, Aditi also described the harms, particularly those related to being a young woman online, associated with gaming. This includes how she, and other children, often don’t understand the risks of sharing personal information and prevalence of gender-based harassment.

Aditi then discussed how forums, like the UNICEF Game Changers Coalition, has helped her and others reimagine the role of women in online gaming and drive the design of games to make them more age-appropriate spaces. Aditi called for governments and other bodies to incentivize private firms to build experiences with children at their core and how platforms themselves need to realize that their choices can unlock the benefits of games while minimizing the risk.

Sabrina Vorbau from European Schoolnet followed Aditi, discussing the EU’s revised Better Internet for Kids (BIK) strategy and how the revision process ensured the new BIK onboarded diverse views, including those of children which were instrumental to shaping the strategy. Ultimately this ensured the strategy adopted a more modern approach to promoting protection, empowerment and participation of children online. Sarbina highlighted how young voices also helped inform the Safer Internet Forum conference, informing important matters like topics, speakers and themes. Sabrina reinforced the need to educate with young people, not simply to them or for them.

Shuli Gilutz began to discuss how design philosophies within industry are critical to embedding digital well-being into online play. Shuli unpacked the concept for ‘well-being’, noting that it’s about the subjective experiences of children and includes not just safety but also outcomes like empowerment and creativity. Shuli described how RITEC is working with designers to develop a guide for business, giving them the tools to create positive digital experiences that are safe, private but also advance well-being.

Part 2: the RITEC project

Adam Ingle provided an industry perspective of why designing for children’s experiences is critical, discussing how the LEGO Group is embedding the concept in its own online play products. Adam highlighted that the RITEC project is about developing an empirical basis for understanding what digital well-being looks like while also creating the tools to proliferate responsible design throughout industry. Adam discussed the LEGO Group’s internal processes that helped the company implement best practice, this includes incorporating the views of child rights experts in product development processes, adopting clear digital design principles built around well-being as well as ensuring business metrics and KPIs also measure success against well-being. Adam concluded by noting that it’s not just about equipping businesses with design tools, but that cultural change is also needed to lift industry standards.

Amanda Third introduced the RITEC project itself, based on engagement of almost 400 children (predominately from the global south) and driven by their own views on digital play. Crucially, the project revealed that digital play brings joy and satisfaction and that children experienced many benefits – particularly through fostering social connection and promoting creativity. They are however conscious of the dangers and expect governments and firms to protect them.

Amanda noted how the perspectives of children informed design of a well-being framework with eight components (competence, emotional regulation, empowerment, social connection, creativity, safety and security, diversity, equity and inclusion and self-actualization). The project has also developed metrics to determine whether digital play experiences are meeting the above eight components of well-being, so it’s a practical, measurable framework and not just an abstract one. Amanda concluded by reinforcing the benefits of online play for children but also the criticality of involving children in research.

Shuli noted the next steps for the RITEC project, which includes the guide for business that summarizes the research and makes the findings actionable. Project managers are building the guidance with feedback from designers to ensure the tools speak design language and can be adopted with relative ease.

Panelists were asked to each note a critical action for embedding responsible digital design. Sabrina highlighted the importance of youth participation and including young voices in policy design. Adam emphasized the need for policymakers to adopt a holistic approach to online regulation, that balanced both harms and benefits and incentivizes firms to design for well-being. Shuli stated that industry needs to pivot towards more holistic design philosophies, including empowerment rather than just engagement. Amanda cautioned that we should also recognize the limits of design and how it’s one part of a wider solution that includes cultural change and education.


How do we reach a true representational group of young people? Amanda noted that it’s important to reach to partner organizations who have expertise in engaging vulnerable and diverse perspectives but also there isn’t a perfect research method for participation, and we all need to move forward consciously.

How do we design for the evolving capacities of children? It was noted that regulatory frameworks require firms to consider the different capacities of children and Adam discussed how clever technical design can ensure that, for example, social settings are more limited for younger ages but expand for older ages who can engage with strangers in a more mature way (and with less risk).

What is the role of parents and educators and how does the framework include them? Shuli noted that the main recommendations for parents are (1) play with your kids - once you play with your kids you understand the benefits and risks and that helps the discussion happen, (2) also talk to children what you, as a parent, are worried about. Sabrina noted the conversations between parents and children about online safety is critical.