Neurotechnology and children

How is neurotechnology impacting children today, and what could it mean for them in the future?

Woman and her child using a tablet


In the next five to 10 years, neurotechnologies – ranging from brain implants to non-invasive devices like watches and headbands – will affect daily life for many children. The technologies stand to bring potential benefits in areas such as health, education, wellness and play.

However, they also pose risks – known and unknown – especially given children’s evolving capacities and physical brain development. Unchecked, neurotechnology could be used to infer insights about children’s mental states, and predict and influence behaviours. Wearable devices are spilling over from the medical domain into the consumer market and are not subject to ethical or legal oversight, reducing protections for children.

Robust guidance and the development and enforcement of adequate regulation in the present and near future are needed to protect and empower children.

This working paper explains what neurotechnology is and, through the lens of opportunities and risks, highlights current applications of neurotechnology involving children, and considers future and emerging uses. It concludes with preliminary recommendations towards child-centred neurotechnology.

Watch this space: This working paper, which is part of a partnership between UNICEF and the Government of Finland, will be followed by a set of more detailed policy recommendations to guide neurotechnology policymaking and development for children.

Suggested citation: Pauwels, Eleonore, Neurotechnology and Children, UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight, Florence, June 2024. 


Plain white cover of UNICEF report called "Neurotechnology and Children"
Eleonore Pauwels, Senior Fellow, Global Center on Cooperative Security
Publication date

Files available for download