Law in Children's Lives

This project has used a specially-designed digital game Adventures with Lex to explore how far children see law as an empowering force in their lives.  The project is now complete and we have made a short film that explains how the project developed and tells you about some of our findings.   

Children and law

There are many laws that relate to children in most areas of their lives; at home, at school or in public spaces. In this project, we have been able to gain an understanding of how far children are aware of these laws and perceive themselves as being protected and empowered by them. We hope that this project will stimulate discussion and further research in this area and that it may provide the foundations for the development of legal and educational reform in the UK and elsewhere.

Game-based research

Girls playing Adventures with Lex game

An exciting feature of this study has been the use of  a digital game as a way of carrying out research with children. Rather than being interviewed, children used a specially-designed tablet-based game to negotiate everyday legal challenges. This avoided the issue of children trying to give the ‘right’ answer to adult interviewers. The game  provided a fun and child-friendly way for us to see how children respond to dilemmas in familiar contexts.

The tablet-based game tracks the choices that children make as they play the game, and also audio records children’s explanations. This meant that we gained insights into both the types of decisions that children made, and also their reasons for making them. The children played the game on their own in school, and some also played it back at home with their parents. This helped us to see how parents and children affect each other’s decision making.

A new opportunity for research?

With 60% of children aged 6-11 years old using tablets each week (Ofcom 2014) and 99% of 8-15 year olds regularly playing games (UK Interactive Entertainment, 2015), digital gaming is an activity with which most children are comfortable and familiar.  Part of the aims of the LICL project has to be to investigate whether ‘gamificiation’ presents a new opportunity for research.  As indicated by the children’s comments below, we have found that this is a highly successful way of motivating and engaging young research participants.

Tablet and headphones

“I loved it and I would love to download it on my iPad” (Boy, Year 5)

“Brilliant – I would do it again!” (Boy, Year 5)

“I would give it a 10/10” (Boy, Year 4)

“The game was AWESOME! And I learnt a lot!” (Girl, Year 5)

“I think every child should try this game - it is amazing!!” (Girl, Year 4)

“I found the game fun and it is cool to record your own voice, it's like actually speaking to Lex.” (Girl, Year 6)

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Law in Children’s Lives Contact

Lead Researcher: Dr Dawn Watkins

School of Law
University of Leicester
University Road

tel: 0116 223 1082