This post gives a 2-minute read about the latest IEEE 2089 Standard (A Standard for an an Age Appropriate Digital Services Framework), published in November 2021. It aims to provide an introduction about what the standard is for, who it is useful for and what the expected impacts of the standard are.

Fig 1. Relationship of processes and stages in IEEE Std 2089-2021. Copyright IEEE SA.

Why IEEE 2089-2021

Children’s data governance has attracted growing societal interest, policy changes by governments and policymakers, and attention from parents, educators, and children. However, while we are still seeking effective mechanisms to enforce various child-specific legislations, service providers and designers often raise the challenge of lacking actionable guidance or standards for the development of digital technologies for children.

“This standard is a major step forward in the design of digital services for children, as it focuses on technology in the public interest, mitigating risks through a robust design process inclusive of diverse stakeholder representation,” said Katina Michael, Professor at Arizona State University and the IEEE 2089 Working Group Chair [1].

Indeed IEEE 2089-2021 aims to "describe the set of processes by which engineers and technologists can consider children’s rights and needs throughout the stages of concept exploration and development" [2].

“This standard supplements the efforts from regulators to enable the design of a digital world with children in mind by providing practical guidance for achieving that aim", said Baroness Kidron, Chair of 5Rights Foundation [1].

How to use it

The standard is expected to be used by all engineers and technologists who produce digital services or products that shall consider children’s rights and needs throughout the stages of concept exploration and development. It provides an implementable process (see Fig 1 [2]) to help organisations, designers, as well as other stakeholders, to work together with children and parents, and 1) prepare and understand impacts from digital technologies, 2) carry out an assessment of support for children's diverse needs and rights, and 3) ensure the implementation and deployment of the technologies conforming existing regulations and code of practices.

The key to this process is to create the mechanisms to involve a diverse range of children and parents. This principle underpins every step of the process articulated by the standard, from the initial preparation stage to the further clarification of the impacts and requirements, to the actual deployment and maintenance of the technologies.

Indeed, as well said by the Chair of the Working Group, Profession Katina Michael,

"... the very fact that we could work with a child, with other stakeholders, direct and indirect, is what was so appealing to me in the development of more robust emerging services... often we don't have that conversation with children ... We need to become public-interest technologists. We need to think about our children first and foremost". [3].

To ensure successful completion of the process, the standard defines a range of roles that an organisation shall consider to be involved in the tasks, including top management champions, system experts, an age appropriate lead, a child rights advocate, a senior product manager, a moderator, and transparency manager. These roles may overlap but they should be carefully developed, to ensure that the person or the group of people involved are competent and committed.

What's next

IEEE2089 complements various existing legislation development related to children's data privacy and rights [4]. To increase the adoption of the standards, a starting point is increased community awareness, amongst those who develop the architectures and technologies for children. Another important factor of success is an incentive.

This standard is part of a broader development by IEEE for protecting children's digital rights. One of the ongoing developments from the IEEE is a certification scheme, for people to show that they have really cared and followed the standard. "And within with that, they have a safe haven for their platforms and so on. And we're working on this", said Konstantinos Karachalios, Managing Director of IEEE SA [3].

[1] IEEE Publishes New Standard to Address Age Appropriate Design for Children’s Digital Services. Business Wire. Published in November 2021. Accessed in March 2022.

[2] IEEE Standard for an Age Appropriate Digital Services Framework Based on the 5Rights Principles for Children. Free copy. Published in November 2021. Accessed in March 2022.

[3] IEEE 2029-2021 Engagement February 2022. [link]

[4] Example Data protection regulations, including regulations that protections children’s data specifically

  • Age Appropriate Design Code, 2020 (UK)

  • Fundamentals for a Child Oriented Approach to Data Protection, 2020 (Ireland)

  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, 1998 (US)

  • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 91

  • Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World, CA Bus. and Prof. Code § 22580, et seq.