University of Oulu

Respecting children’s rights and ownership in the design process : towards guidelines for co-designing with children

Saved in:
Author: Moilanen, Tapio1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Pages: 56
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : T. Moilanen, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-16
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Molin-Juustila, Tonja
Iivari, Netta
Reviewer: Hartikainen, Heidi
Molin-Juustila, Tonja
Iivari, Netta


Increase of digital fabrication and makerspaces have made it possible to bring designing into education in new ways. At the same time, companies have started to show interest to co-designing with children and schools have shown interest in making and selling commercial products co-designed by children. In these rapid new developments, children’s rights have received too little attention. There are no established practices for how children’s rights and ownership issues should be considered in co-design projects.

For this thesis study, interviews were carried out with adults who have experience of digital fabrication and making projects with children. The interviews were then transcribed and analyzed with content analysis methods. The aim in this qualitative study was to formulate guidelines for respecting children’s rights and ownership in co-design. The topic was approached through two research questions, the first of which examined the current state of co-design practices and the second of which aimed to give recommendations for future.

The findings suggest that adults working with children are generally well informed about children’s rights but lack knowledge about ownership questions. The most common way to address ownership issues was making written agreements, which clearly stated who owns the intellectual property rights and the end-products of the co-design projects. The agreements were made typically either between school and the company or signed by parent(s)/guardian(s) on behalf of the child. Children’s rights were addressed similarly to regular schoolwork, which majority of the co-design projects were part of. The findings also suggest that while teachers are used to respecting children’s rights, it is not necessarily the case with external business partners.

The guidelines formulated in this thesis aim to provide support for addressing children’s rights and ownership questions in co-design projects. They are aimed for practitioners planning to conduct co-design projects with children. The guidelines are by no means comprehensive or sufficient by themselves for facilitating a co-design project. This topic would benefit from further research, especially considering the children’s views of co-design and further development of guidelines for co-designing.

see all

Copyright information: © Tapio Moilanen, 2022. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.