Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Children in virtual worlds study

by Robin Hamman

University of Westminster’s Lizzie Jackson, an old friend who was my boss when I joined the BBC for the first time back in about 1998, and David Gauntlett have recently completed a wide ranging study on the use of virtual worlds by children. They identified “thirteen principles for a successful virtual world for children” – that is, things children want to be able to do in a 3D virtual environment. Here are the six of those I think, based on experience, are likely to be the most important:

  • be sociable – meet and chat
  • be creative and make things
  • control over ownership and changes to the space
  • visibility of user status in the game
  • participate with a purpose
  • get help when they need it

It’s interesting to see academic research confirming many of things wesee in our experiences of building social networking, discussion andsharing spaces at Headshift. Based on our experiences, it’s no surprise that children, or for that matter participants of any age, want and expect to be able to be sociable in a 3D world and that, when they do participate, they want to do so in ways that enable them to be creative. Users also want and expect ownership over their content and control over the way they use the space, with a purposeful reason for participation – an editorialised goal or activity that helps guide their participation – and visibility of their efforts to make that achievement.

This is the second of two blog posts I’ve made today from an event organised by BBC Future Media and Technology and the Arts and Humanity Research Council. The other covers a presentation by Claire Wardle on the use and impact of user generated content in journalism at the BBC.

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