Research Ethics Question


I have a question regarding the ethics of conducting user research with teens (13+ year olds).

I am building a product where our target demographic is from ages 13-24 year olds. I would like to conduct user research (remotely) with some teens within the demographic? Are there specific guidelines that I should know about? For example, do I need to get their parents’ consent?


Let’s call in the @Researchers


Good call on getting feedback for this one, I’m interested in the answer as well!


I would strongly consider asking yourself what the risks are to your participants. If you’re collecting personal information about your participants, part of your risk is if that information is leaked to outside parties, either through your company selling it or inadvertently through security breach.

Think pessimistically about the maximum amount of harm you could possibly be doing if things go wrong with your study, because that’s where you have a liability. If the study is of anything that might be more personal, then it’s especially of concern.

Generally, a rule-of-thumb is to get guardian permission for anything beyond the absolutely most superficial of studies with no real user information.


Thanks for the info! So for the current project, it’s a personal project that requires user research, but I assume what you said above still applies to me?

Also, what is the best way to get guardian permission? Should I get written permission or is verbal permission good enough?


You need written permission. There are consent form templates you can probably find online.


I did face to face interviews with teens in a school setting. I had to have a Working With Vulnerable people card, parent consent and faculty member in the interviews with me.


Definitely need consent from the guardian. In Australia we also have a Working with Vulnerable people check that should be undertaken (here’s the local one for my area as an example).


Yes, rather than using a normal consent form, you should use what’s called an assent form for minors.