Childrens attitudes towards the law revealed through innovative digital game project
A new project using a fun digital game aims to find out what primary school children really know and think about the law and their rights.
The project, ‘Law in Children’s Lives’, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is led by Dr Dawn Watkins in our School of Law.
Using a specially-designed digital game on a tablet, the innovative research tool is gaining insights into children’s understandings of the law in their everyday lives. The game was designed with the help of children from three Leicestershire primary schools and was developed with the gaming company Enigma. The research team has visited a further eight Leicestershire primary schools where classes of children aged 8 - 11 were provided with tablets, complete with headsets and microphones to record their views.
The game, ‘Adventures with Lex’, involves a cartoon alien called Lex coming to Earth and asking the children to show him their lives. It takes place in four familiar worlds – a school, a park, a shop, and a friend’s house. The children are shown several scenarios, including a woman hitting her child in public, a friend being left home alone, and a dilapidated playground. They are asked questions such as ‘who is responsible?’, ‘is this ok?’ or ‘what can you do?’
The alien, Lex, then asks the children to explain the reasoning behind their choices out loud, which is recorded by the tablet.
Dr Watkins said: “At the end of this project we will have gathered children’s views on issues such as the amount of power they have in school, who is legally allowed to hit children, at what age a child should be left alone at home and at what age a child can look after another child. Drawing directly on this information, we will be able to influence government policy in these and other areas.”
The team hope to have the results of the project in early 2016 and are looking to push out a second phase of the project to work with smaller groups of especially vulnerable children.