Terms of Use

Welcome to the Lookit Platform, an online platform for developmental research studies. You should read and understand these terms and conditions, which govern your use of the Lookit Platform. Researchers may be especially interested in the sections not in italic when first learning about the Platform.


These Terms of Service, with our Privacy Policy, are a resource for you to get a deeper understanding of your obligations and rights with respect to the Lookit Platform including how we use information and data we collect from you. We may modify these Terms of Service from time to time as we deem appropriate, so you should check back in frequently to confirm the terms upon which you may use the Lookit Platform. We will notify you of any modifications to these Terms by posting them on the Lookit Platform. Use of the Lookit Platform after the effective date of the updated Terms constitutes your agreement to the updated Terms.

The terms "we", "us" "our" and similar terms refer to Lookit. The terms “you,” “your,” “Researcher” and similar terms refer to users of our Platform. The term “Platform” refers to the online Lookit Platform. “Terms” or “Agreement” refers to these Terms of Service, as may be amended from time to time by us.

A study "posted on Lookit" refers to any study which has been submitted for and received approval to appear on the Lookit website.

A study "conducted on Lookit" refers to studies which, additionally, perform all consent procedures and data collection without leaving the Lookit web domain.

There are several types of data collected on the Lookit Platform. These comprise:

  1. Account data: information about a Lookit account holder, representing an adult participant or family: e.g., contact information, email preferences
  2. Child data: information about a Lookit participant, representing a child associated with a particular Lookit account: e.g., birthdate, gender, gestational age at birth, medical diagnoses
  3. Demographic survey data: responses to a demographic survey associated with a Lookit account: e.g., approximate geographic location, household income, parental education
  4. Study data, including video: responses collected during a child’s participation in a particular Lookit study: webcam video of the child and parent as well as text data including form responses, on-screen selections, which stimuli were shown, etc.

In addition, the term "External data" refers to video, text, or other data, including consent records, collected from participants in a study posted (but not conducted) on Lookit. this includes data from studies which are conducted asynchronously on another web platform as well those which are collected at a scheduled session (online or in person.)

Other capitalized terms may be defined below in these Terms.

Acceptance of Terms of Service

These Terms, which include our Privacy Policy, are a binding legal agreement and govern your use of the Platform, including all features and functionalities, applications, updates, notifications and our user interfaces, and all content and software associated therewith. By checking the “I accept the Terms & Conditions” box during the account set up or by downloading, using, visiting, or browsing the Platform, you accept and agree to be bound by these Terms as amended from time to time. If you do not agree to these Terms, you are not authorized to use, and you should not use, the Platform.

Use of the Platform

Account Registration. In order to use the Platform, you will need to provide to us certain basic information such as your name, institution, and email address. You agree that all information you provide to us will be complete, true and correct and that you will keep it up-to-date. During the registration process, you will choose a user name and password for your use of the Platform. You will be responsible for securing your user name and password and for all use of the Platform using your email address or password. You will be solely liable for any use of the Platform under your account and password. You agree to notify us promptly of any unauthorized use or disclosure of your password. We reserve the right to refuse use of or revoke use of any username in our discretion. Basic use of the Platform is offered free of charge. However, we reserve the right to establish fees for use of the Platform at any time or to charge additional fees for premium services, data access or additional functionality.

Researcher Obligations. Your use of the Platform and of external data generated by Lookit participants shall be solely for your own educational and academic use. You will comply with all applicable laws in connection with your use of the Platform and resulting external data, as well as all applicable policies of your Institution. You will not attempt to circumnavigate or violate any security feature of the Platform, including accessing any Platform features, interactive areas, information or profiles for which you do not have permission or other content or information not intended for you.

All Researchers are responsible for their own use of the Platform, and for their use of external data generated by Lookit participants. Researchers also assume responsibility for any adverse events associated with participation in their studies. As part of your use of the Platform and resulting external data, you agree that you:

  1. Will not use account or child nicknames, email addresses, or mailing addresses of Lookit participants, accessed via Researchers’ use of the Lookit platform, as a subject of research.
  2. Will not share, sell, publish, or otherwise disclose participant contact information (email or mailing addresses) obtained as a result of their use of the Lookit platform. For instance, participant contact information may not be added to a lab participant database that is used for local recruitment.
  3. May contact families by email, through the Lookit Platform, only in accordance with those families’ email preferences, and only for communication related to their Lookit studies.
  4. May contact families by postal mail only to send payment/prizes for participation or materials needed to participate in a study (e.g., a book to read together), and not for any other communication.
  5. Subject to any applicable institutional review, may study relationships between the same child’s behavior in the same study (some studies may comprise multiple sessions, for instance to look at individual differences, test-retest reliability, or the effects of an intervention); between the same child’s behavior in different studies run by the Researcher; and between siblings’ behavior on the same study or different studies run by the Researcher.
  6. Subject to any applicable institutional review, may combine data with another Lookit Researcher to examine relationships among the same child’s or siblings’ behavior on studies run by the Researcher in conjunction with studies run by another Researcher.
  7. Will not publish either individual participant birthdates or information that could be combined to calculate participant birthdates (for instance, the participant’s age in days at time of testing plus the test date).
  8. May use parent and child nicknames only for communication with participants, and may not publish individual child or account nicknames stored in child and account records. Child names may be incidentally included in video recordings or parent comments that are published, although we encourage researchers to redact child names when possible from written comments.
  9. With the exception of linking external data to corresponding Lookit data for studies posted on Lookit, will not use video or other data in order to link outside information available about a specific participant to an associated child, account, or experimental session, without specific IRB approval to do so. Any other planned integration of outside data must be reported to Lookit at the time the study is submitted.
  10. Will not publish the "global ID" fields for account, child, or demographic survey records. These fields can be accessed by all researchers using the Lookit platform, so publication could lead to unintentional linkage of data from the same individuals. Researchers receive access to the global IDs in case necessary; for instance, to facilitate financial record-keeping and any necessary linking of accounts and children across studies. The 5-character account, child, and demographic "ID" fields provided for download may be published; these are specific to the study. Researchers wishing to publish persistent identifiers for data from multiple connected studies must either create a table linking IDs across studies, or generate their own random IDs.
  11. Will not publish video of Lookit participants such that it can be matched with individual demographic survey data (e.g., household income, number of parents/guardians).
  12. Will not collect external data from studies posted on Lookit with the intent to circumvent the terms of this agreement.

Use and Storage of Data By Lookit and Researchers

The following guidelines pertain to the use and storage of Lookit data.

  1. Researchers may download local copies of their Lookit data, including study data and video, and account, child, and demographic survey data from Lookit participants who have participated in their studies. Lookit may also keep copies of this data, including study data and video, indefinitely.
  2. Lookit assumes no responsibility for losses incurred by the Researchers in the event that data stored by Lookit, including study design information, is lost or corrupted.
  3. Researchers retain ownership of study data, including video, for their own studies.
  4. Lookit retains ownership of account, child, and demographic survey response data collected on Lookit.
  5. Lookit reserves the right to use any data collected on the Lookit platform, including account, child, demographic, and study data, for the following purposes:
    1. To improve the Lookit platform: e.g., detect and fix technical problems or identify new features that would be helpful
    2. To develop data analysis tools for Lookit researchers, including automated gaze coding
    3. To provide technical support to study researchers
    4. To assess the quality of data collected on the platform (for instance, how well an observer can tell which direction children are looking)
    5. To evaluate recruitment and family engagement efforts
    6. To recruit participants or researchers to use Lookit
  6. Lookit may publish the results of the above described methodological research.

Restrictions on Data Collection on Lookit

The following guidelines pertain to the use and storage of Lookit data, and apply to all studies posted on the Lookit platform, whether they are also conducted there or are conducted using an external platform or scheduled session.

  1. Researchers must provide accurate contact information to be posted along with all studies they conduct on Lookit, and must respond promptly to parent communication.
  2. Researchers agree to accurately represent the procedures and goals of their studies. In addition to obtaining approval from any appropriate institutional review board, researchers agree to notify Lookit of deception involved in any study designs, at the time the study is submitted for Lookit review. Deception that must be disclosed to Lookit includes deliberate omission of information or presentation of any misleading information to either the parent or the child, either in the course of the study itself or regarding the study’s purpose and procedures. Examples include telling the child that he or she performed better or worse than peers when children were in fact assigned randomly to receive such feedback; telling a parent that researchers expect to observe a particular behavior that is not actually expected, in order to avoid parental bias; or failing to disclose in a study about child-parent interaction that the researchers are primarily interested in gender differences in interaction styles.
  3. In all study designs, the child must remain in the same room with his or her parent at all times. No infancy study session (for children 0 - 12 months) may be designed to last longer than 30 minutes, and no experiment session may be designed to last longer than 90 minutes. Purely observational periods may extend longer if approved by Lookit--for instance, if the goal of a study is to observe conversation during a family meal or independent child play.
  4. In all study designs, the parent must be able to end the study session at any point. This functionality is built into Lookit and may not be altered. Equivalent functionality must be available in any study posted on Lookit and conducted elsewhere. Parents must be informed of this option at the beginning of every study.
  5. Researchers acknowledge that all studies are subject to review and final approval by Lookit. Lookit reserves the right to reject a study and/or request revisions for any reason. However, Lookit approval is not based on a complete review of research practices and does not constitute endorsement of a study. Researchers still hold ultimate responsibility for their study design and ethical compliance.
  6. Researchers agree to post studies and collect data from participants only on the Lookit production platform (https://lookit.mit.edu). Researchers granted access to a Lookit staging site may use this only for study development and usability testing, and may not obtain parental consent via this site.

Informed Consent Guidelines

Studies which are posted on Lookit but conducted elsewhere must use informed consent procedures as required by the Researcher's institutional review board. Lookit reserves the right to require any studies posted on the Lookit platform to conduct informed consent procedures on Lookit.

The remainder of this section applies only to those studies which are both posted and conducted on lookit.

Researchers may study participants from birth through seventeen years of age (i.e., until the eighteenth birthday) and their parents or legal guardians on Lookit. Researchers may also study adult participants. For studies with only adult participants, researchers agree to record a statement of informed consent from the participant. For studies with child participants, researchers agree to record a statement of informed consent from a child participant’s parent or legal guardian at the start of any Lookit study, and to additionally record a statement of assent from any child participant aged eight years or older.Parents and guardians of all ages may consent to participation on behalf of themselves and their children (that is, if the parent is a minor, his or her own parent’s consent is not additionally required).

If only parental consent is obtained, data from child participants eight years of age and older must be treated as if valid consent was not obtained. Researchers may at their own discretion and/or based on their own institution’s policies record an assent statement from children under eight years as well.

Consent/assent may occur after a webcam setup/configuration step but must precede any other Lookit study elements. Researchers must use the standard Lookit consent and, if applicable, assent form element(s) for this section, providing additional text relevant to the particular study which will be inserted in the spaces indicated. No translations or adaptations of these elements may be used without the approval of both the Researchers’ institutional review board and Lookit. For studies that involve any webcam access, a verbal (or ASL) statement of consent (and assent if applicable) must be recorded via webcam. For studies that do not involve any webcam or audio recording (e.g., that consist entirely of a survey), Lookit’s non-webcam form elements may be used.

Researchers agree that they will view the consent recording before viewing any other video data collected during the same session and that they will check that the recording demonstrates informed adult consent and child assent if applicable. If the statement(s) is audible (or a signed statement in ASL is interpretable), appropriate study measures may then be coded by the researcher and the data may be used for research purposes. If a technical issue (e.g. lack of audio recording) prevented collection of informed consent from the parent, and the parent has set communication preferences to allow researchers to email with questions about their participation, Researchers may instead confirm consent by emailing the account holder and receiving back a reply that contains the statement “Yes, I am this child's parent or legal guardian and we both agreed to participate in this study” or text equivalent in meaning.

Unless parental consent and, if applicable, child assent are confirmed, Researchers may not view any other video associated with this study session, and may not use any other data from the session in their analysis, although the number of such records and aggregate data about the associated accounts (e.g., how many unique children, how many were in the age range) may be reported. Researchers are responsible for storing and maintaining any necessary records of confirmation of consent/assent.

Video Privacy

Researchers agree to solicit selections for the privacy level of video data at the end of any Lookit study that is conducted on the Lookit platform. Researchers must use the standard Lookit exit survey element for this section, providing additional text relevant to the particular study which will be inserted in the spaces indicated. Parents must have the option to withdraw their video from the study at this point. Language may be modified, subject to approval by Lookit, as required by Researchers’ institutional review board (for instance, to add more detail about Databrary).

If video is withdrawn for a session, any video other than the consent recording will be automatically made unavailable by Lookit. In the event that Researchers download data during an ongoing study session and video is later withdrawn, and in the event of any discrepancy between withdrawal information and Lookit's automatic removal of video, Researchers agree to delete without viewing any associated session video they have downloaded other than the consent recording.

Researchers may share video and other session data, account data, child data, and demographic data on Databrary for sessions where parents opt to allow this usage, subject to approval of the appropriate institutional review board. Researchers agree to share video data only in accordance with the parent’s privacy selections. If privacy selections are missing, video must be treated either as if withdrawn or as if the parent had selected ‘private’ use, and data must not be shared with Databrary.

Participant Payment

Researchers may choose whether to pay participants, and the form of payment, subject to any applicable IRB review at their own institutions. The purpose of payment must be to compensate participants for their time and effort, and must not be coercive. Lookit may set guidelines for acceptable payment ranges. Payment may include: money or gift certificates, or physical prizes (e.g., an age-appropriate book or game), either emailed or sent via postal mail. Future payment options may include Lookit points, redeemable on the Lookit Platform for gift certificates and other prizes, and may be pooled across studies.

Information about payment must be included in the study description submitted to Lookit and is subject to Lookit approval. This information must include when, how, how much, and under what conditions participants will be paid. Without prior approval by Lookit, payment may not depend on the child’s behavior or performance, even if that behavior renders data unusable (e.g., if an infant fusses and his parent ends the session early). Payment may not depend on the parent’s video privacy selections.

Even if payment is to be sent via postal mail, families may not be required to provide a mailing address in order to participate. When practical, families should be offered the opportunity to select alternate compensation in this case.

Researchers are responsible for verifying participation and sending payment or recording the number of Lookit points participants should receive. Researchers are responsible for the cost of all participant payment, including reimbursing Lookit for Lookit points based on a price agreed upon at the start of the study. Lookit may, at its discretion, also choose to itself offer Lookit points for study participation. Researchers are not responsible for the costs of such compensation.

Copyright Violation

It is MIT’s policy to respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Copyright owners who believe their material has been infringed on the Platform should contact MIT's designated copyright agent at dcma-agent@mit.edu, or at 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138-4307 Attention: MIT DMCA Agent, W92-263A.

Notification must include: (a) identification of the copyrighted work, or, in the case of multiple works at the same location, a representative list of such works at that site; (b) identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity; (c) information for us to be able to contact the complaining party (e.g., email address, phone number); (d) a statement that the complaining party believes that the use of the material has not been authorized by the copyright owner or an authorized agent; and (e) a statement that the information in the notification is accurate and that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.

Entire Agreement

These terms and conditions constitute the entire agreement between you and MIT with respect to your use of the Platform, superseding any prior agreements between you and MIT regarding your use of the Platform. The failure of MIT to exercise or enforce any right or provision of the terms and conditions shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any provision of the terms and conditions is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the parties nevertheless agree that the court should endeavor to give effect to the parties' intentions as reflected in the provision, and the other provisions of the terms and conditions remain in full force and effect.

Governing Law

You agree that any dispute arising out of or relating to these terms and conditions or any content posted to the Platform will be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, excluding its conflicts of law provisions. You further consent to the personal jurisdiction of and exclusive venue in the federal and state courts located in and serving Boston, Massachusetts as the legal forum for any such dispute.

Last updated October 13, 2021 [Changelog] [Change notifications]