Ethics and Children's Information Systems
Silverstein, Nissenbaum, Flanagan and Freier
ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006
As information technologies become increasingly prevalent in children’s lives, designers must make difficult design decisions regarding both the developmental constraints of the user population (e.g., cognitive capacity, literacy, attention span, etc.) and implications for fundamental human values (e.g., information access, privacy, autonomy, informed consent, psychological welfare, etc.). Whether interacting with digital reference systems (Silverstein, 2005), robotic pets (Kahn, Friedman, Perez-Granados, & Freier, in press), or educational games to teach young girls programming (Flanagan, Howe, & Nissenbaum, 2005), children are continuously constructing knowledge about these information systems and utilizing that knowledge to reflect upon larger domains of life such as the personal-psychological, social-conventional, and moral. Designers may not recognize that specific affordances of the technology they design, such as a voice interface, can have value implications, such as reifying existing gender stereotypes (Nass, Moon, & Green, 1997). This is particularly true for children, whose concepts of social norms and moral principles are still in dynamic and formative stages of development. This difficult problem of accounting for human values in the design of information technologies has not gone unnoticed. Specific methodologies have been developed that attempt to comprehensively and systematically account for values of ethical import in the design process (e.g., Friedman & Freier, 2005; Friedman, Kahn, & Borning, in press). This panel will raise questions regarding the role that information science has in the creation of information technologies for children that are developmentally appropriate and value-sensitive. For example: • Is information science situated to speak to particular values of ethical import in children’s interactions with information technologies? If so, which values and how? • How do the research areas of information behavior, information literacy, information policy, and others speak to the particular problem presented by this panel?