Monday, May 12, 2008

Watching Kids Use Online

Another insight into online family use -- Warren Buckleitner, editor of the Children's Technology Review, recent released a ethnographic research report for Consumer Reports -- http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/pdfs/kidsonline.pdf. He worked with 10 families with 15 kids to record their children's consumption of digital media.

A bit sobering, funny, and not all that unusual from a parent's point of view. For example, a six-year old finding "Littlest Pet Shop" via Google -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgYXEWJgit0 -- isn't that unusual even for parents of older children.

He found that of the 21 websites they observed usage of, most were highly commercialized (3.47 out of a high of 5 on his scale) and were heavily focused on consumerism. The videos show the kids' savviness and confusion at the same time. They understand the game, but the free giveaways, nature of subscriptions, association of ads and banners, and registrations don't make sense. Having mommy's email address as a limit is shown to not be a good barrier, as most kids quickly are aware of that phrase -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzx93odXUFU&feature=user. Though one child did have a good idea -- how about nospam.com?

Do designers really look at how these youngsters use these products? When 6 year olds are falling into these online tools, how do we expect them to react?

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