NEWS - Report published on our children’s engagement pilot study

Our children’s research lead, Professor Morag Treanor, discusses our children’s engagement pilot and is delighted to share the findings in our report published today.

ADR Scotland worked in partnership with Children in Scotland to hold five workshops with a group of children and young people from across Scotland to understand their views about administrative data, data research and how researchers should communicate their research findings.

One thing that was very clear from the start, was that the children and young people had a good awareness of the large amount of data that was collected and stored about them, both in relation to administrative data collected by public services and online purchasing habits and social media usage.

The group felt it was a good thing for anonymised data on children’s lives to be used to benefit others so long as the information was anonymous and not personal. However, they felt that organisations weren’t good at telling children (and adults) when their personal data was being collected and for what purpose. They suggested that the majority of people their age would click ‘agree’ to pop-up notices without reading the details on what the data is stored for and what purpose it can be used for.

Of particular benefit to us as researchers was the children and young people’s views and advice on how we should communicate our findings. We gave examples of what we had done previously and, in the first example of a ‘Timeline with complex information’, the young people felt it was too cramped and busy, and was very difficult to read. We were advised to simplify and to pick out the important information to be conveyed. On discussing survey results, the participants liked bar charts, as these were familiar. However, they very much liked the creative, pictorial presentation of survey findings in, for example, comics or animations. In general the group felt that researchers need to ensure that data is communicated in an easy to understand method, make it engaging and using colour and images, as well as including links to websites to show references and suggest further reading if people wish to find out more information.

The summary report of the pilot can be viewed here.

Our senior researcher, Dr Robert Porter suggests that:

We as researchers need to learn from what children and young people are telling us and change how we report findings. Using storylines to explain what the data means, alongside clear, simple graphics, and avoiding jargon and technical language, will enable everyone to engage with our key messages. This will also support children’s rights to learn how their data has been used.

The children and young people also held discussions on children’s rights and how these relate to children and young people’s data and data research. With the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law, we wanted the group to be confident that they knew which UNCRC articles were relevant to ensuring children and young people’s privacy needs were protected.

Finally, we asked the group what they wanted the legacy of the project to be. The key messages that they wanted to share can be found below and in the full report.

The lead of our children's lives and outcomes theme, Professor Morag Treanor said:

We are grateful to Children in Scotland for creating these discussions, and especially grateful to the children and young people who gave up their time and committed themselves fully to engaging with our work. Asking people to discuss data and research is not everyone’s cup of tea and we were hugely fortunate that this group did it whole-heartedly. The next steps lie with us. We will keep their recommendations front and centre of our work and will ensure that we communicate our work in ways that are accessible and meaningful to children and young people.

This article was published on 27 Jun 2022

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