Call for Participants

Focus Group Information Sheet (for Parents)

Project Summary

To find out more about children’s perspectives and experiences of issues related to “age appropriate design,” we are holding a series of focus groups, annually over a period of three years (2023-2025). Some of our focus groups will take place at the University of Toronto St George campus, and some of our focus groups will take place at a community centre or public library in the Ottawa/Gatineau region. The focus groups and the study are led by Dr. Sara Grimes, a professor in the iSchool at the University of Toronto. The purpose of this study is to understand how we can make video games more supportive of children’s rights. Maybe by coming up with new rules about how video games are made, how they earn money, how they are run, and how they are rated.

We are looking for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years (inclusive) who already play digital games regularly, are willing to talk to us about these issues in English or French, and are available to attend a focus group in person (dates will be determined based on availability of participants). Parents/guardians can relay their child’s interest by sending an email to Sara ( Someone from the research team will then schedule a quick screening survey over phone or Zoom with the parent/guardian to determine eligibility and availability.

Selected participants will be invited to take part in a focus group with other children who play video games to help us understand what kids think about the way games are deigned and regulated, and how kids (and their family and friends) decide what games to play, or not play, and why. A main goal of this study is to produce a set of recommendations about age-appropriate game design and supporting children’s rights in games, which we will share with game developers, policymakers, parents and kids.

How is this study being paid for?

This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which is part of the Canadian government. SSHRC funds lots of research, including research that is supposed to help children participate in society.

What will my child be asked to do?

Children will be asked to come in person to join 5-6 other children who game for a 45 minutes/1 hour focus group, once a year for three years. In these focus groups, they, along with other children, will watch one of our researchers play a game the children are familiar with in the style of a Let’s Play or Twitch stream, while we all discuss their opinions on “age-appropriateness” in gaming. After fifteen minutes of watching, the children will take turns playing, or drawing and making art while they wait. They will always be with a researcher who will ask questions and help facilitate discussion. They will be asked questions about what they think is fair and age-appropriate, what game ratings are for, and how they can tell if a game is made or right for them.

A smaller number of participants will then be invited to do a follow-up interview, so that we can ask them additional questions about their answers during the focus group. These interviews will happen over Zoom and will last a maximum of 20 minutes, and will be led by one member of our research team. Parents/guardians can sit in on this interview if they wish.

What will happen to the information that my child provides?

Only the researchers will have access to the things that are said and done in the focus groups and interviews and the information given to us, including the video and audio recordings we will make. We will use this information to write reports about the project. Except when required by law, this information will be kept confidential as much as possible. The information will not be used in any other projects. This research may be reviewed for quality assurance to ensure that the required laws and guidelines are followed. If chosen for review, a representative of the Human Research Ethics Program (HREP) may access the study and consent materials as part of the review process. Information accessed by the HREP will be upheld to the same level of confidentiality described below. We promise that we will keep your child’s data safe, encrypted and password protected, and that only the research team will have access to it. It only ever be used by the researchers for the project described above.

Will being a part of this project make my child feel uncomfortable in any way?

There is a small chance that their participation in these focus groups may make them feel uncomfortable. If at any time they do feel uncomfortable, they can talk about this with their focus group facilitator, or choose to stop being a part of the project at any time (they don’t even need to tell us why if they don’t want to). They will not face any consequences should they withdraw. We will also give them details of mental health organizations that they can call if they feel they need to.

How do you intend to publish or disseminate the results?

We plan to publish the things we find out in these focus groups in different places. In any publication and/or presentation, we won’t share information that will identify you or your child, unless explicit permission is given.

Can my child withdraw from the project?

Participation is completely their choice: They don’t have to be involved. If they decide to participate, they may change their mind and stop being a part of the project at any time without telling us why. If they decide to stop being involved, we will go through the data we have and anything that shows who they are will be taken out of any reports or material the project makes. They can withdraw from the research by contacting Professor Sara Grimes (details below).

Where can I get more information?

For more information, please contact: Professor Sara Grimes, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto Tel: 416-978-5269

Questions or concerns about you and/or your child’s rights as research participants in this study may be brought to the University of Toronto Research Oversight and Compliance Office at or 416-946-3273.