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Apps for Children Should Emphasize Parent and Child Choice, Researchers Say

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A child using an app designed for children.

New research at the University of Washington has found that thoughtfully designed content that intentionally supports parent-child interactions facilitated the same kind of play and development as analog toys.

Credit: KD Novelties

Preschoolers can benefit from using electronic devices with thoughtfully designed content that intentionally supports parent-child interactions, according to University of Washington researchers.

Their research shows app designers can enhance or disrupt daily life, and parents can use their purchasing power to encourage the industry to create better apps.

In one study, the researchers recommended incorporating a role for parents when designing apps for children. Designers should also create apps that can be interrupted, with content that allows children to make decisions about whether to continue playing with the device.

In a second study, the researchers describe their Coco's Videos app, designed to gauge what preschoolers would do when presented with different options about watching online videos. The vast majority of preschoolers chose to continue watching when videos automatically launched new selections.

The research was presented at the ACM CHI 2018 Conference in Montreal, Canada.

From University of Washington
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Abstracts Copyright © 2018 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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