Meeco has some very happy news to share about a new partnership with Heder VZW and a newKidTechproduct planned to launch December 2020. But first, we would like to share a little about why we believe this is so important.
Back in April 2019, we presented our thoughts at the World Government Summit on the digital future for Kids.
“Every child born in today’s digital world will live a dual physical and digital life. How we enable privacy and security for their digital twin in as important as the rights afforded to them in the physical world. If we don’t get this right, we risk a generation born into digital slavery” – Katryna Dow, Meeco, World Government Summit, 2019
Sadly, a year on from the Summit and our concerns are evidenced all too often. This week by the news that the parents of 5 million British children under the age of 13, are mounting a legal battle with the tech giant Google, for $3 Billion.At the heart of their claims is the desire to protect the digital rights of their children. The lawsuit alleges that YouTube’s method of targeting underage audiences constitute “major breaches” of UK and European privacy and data rules designed to protect citizens, especially kids.
This month NETFLIX released The Social Dilemma, a must watch documentary on the social media addiction that is both alluring and alienating for each of us, especially our children. The documentary includes alarming statistics on the increase in childhood depression, self-harm and suicide.
Most alarming is that the age group impacted is getting younger and younger and directly linked to their early access to social media. These platforms make it all too easy for underage children to access and be subjected to unfiltered feedback that contributes to feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction and isolation.
“There has to be a better way for us to enable children to participate in the digital world, along with making their first digital experiences safe.”
– Katryna Dow, Meeco
Enter Heder, a not-for-profit organisation based in Antwerp, Belgium. Heder provides care and guidance to improve quality of life for children with different abilities, along with their families and extended networks.
Heder’s philosophy is to always start from present strengths. Finding small things or looking for bigger solutions that enable people to focus on their unique strengths. Fostering pride and allowing themselves to experience joy from everyday things. Cultivating this from early childhood, together with support from family and community really makes a difference.
Their multidisciplinary experts work together to give support in different ways including creative play, adjusted sports, training, physical and psychological therapy.
Heder offers services in the home, at day-care, school or on campus, and is just some of the ways Heder contributes to a more inclusive society.
And now, there’s another way; drawing on Heder's philosophy of building on strengths, the idea for mIKs-it was born. After a number of years of research, the inspiring vision of Gaby Pereira Martins (Masters in Educational Sciences) and Kim Struyf (Director of Early Development), supported by Heder’s Senior General Manager, Erik Van Acker, will now become a reality.
“Together with Meeco we can give mIKs-it a strong foundation”
– Kim Struyf, Heder
Meeco is honoured to announce our partnership with Heder to co-develop a media platform for kids, focussing on the developmental stages of 0-7 years. The platform is called mIKs-it. It has been designed to foster joy and connection to everyday life for kids, with privacy, security and control as the foundation.
Early childhood is the most vulnerable time in a child’s development as they are totally dependent on family and society for nurturing and protection. It is also likely the period when they will first come into contact with technology. Whether it is playing with their parents’ phone, watching YouTube or listening to content, all these media choices present new challenges to navigate in order to keep children safe.
In designing mIKs-it we had the privilege to work with Trendwolves, who validated the design, usability and kid’s experience through a series of research projects. The research was led by Maarten Leyts, the founder of Trendwolves. Maarten brought unique insight to the project, given his expertise in KidTech. Many of the issues we wanted to understand were addressed by Maarten in his upcoming book “Generation Alpha in Beta”, due for release later this year.
“Today's and tomorrow's kids swipe before they draw. Say hi to Generation Alpha. But we're facing a challenge here. Fully immersed in technology during their formative years and in a fast-changing world, differentiates Gen Alpha from previous generations.”
– Maarten Leyts, Trendwolves
Working with Trendwolves was the obvious choice as they specialise in trend research focusing on families and global youth culture. Their insights help shape and validate product design, always focussing on how we can enhance meaningful human relationships.
Following a successful proof-of-concept completed earlier in the year, the decision to develop the platform was clear. The results of the research, and especially observing kids with a wide range of abilities interact with personal content touched our hearts and motivated our action. Especially as the study included kids with a diverse range of physical and developmental abilities, focussing on media formats for kids with reduced motor skills or that are visually or hearing impaired.
“Meeco’s guiding principle in the digital world is the same as Heder’s principle for the physical world: children are entitled to a safe and positive climate in which to flourish.”
– Gaby Pereira Martins, Heder
mIKs-it has been designed to provide a safe digital place for children to interact with multimedia; photos, video and audio files. The platform is developed using Meeco’s globally awarded technology, with content secured and encrypted using the same approach Meeco developed to protect bank applications, like the digital vault for KBC Bank in Belgium.
mIKs-it is a family platform and not a social network. There are two companion apps – a media app for kids, supported by an app for their trusted grown-ups to manage connections, consent and content. The features of mIKs-it are all the things that it doesn’t do, such as:
- no ads
- no tracking
- no manipulation
- no unauthorised access to your media
- no contacts without your approval
- no content without your consent
- no data mining
Most importantly, the control is always with parents and guardians, and personal data is never sold!
“Heder and Meeco is a purpose driven partnership, our shared goal is to enable a more empowering digital experience for all children.”
- Erik Van Acker, Heder
If you would like to know more about our progress over the coming months and the launch you can register your interest at the mIKs-it website.
We realise there’s still a lot to do to help our kids develop healthy and empowering digital habits, but our hope is that mIKs-it is a small, but meaningful step in the right direction.
Now we invite you to join us on this most wonderful adventure, into the land of mIKs-it: a playground where children and their grown ups can connect and safely share snippets of everyday life and build lasting memories.
The safe multi-media app for kids