Publication: Testing the Media Equation with Children

Designers of children's technology are often more interested in user motivation than those who design systems for adults. Since children's technology often has aims such as education or practice, keeping the user engaged and interested is an important objective. The Media Equation – the idea that people respond socially to computers – shows potential for improving engagement and motivation. Studies have shown that people are more positive about both themselves and the computer when software exhibits certain social characteristics. To explore the possible value of the Media Equation as a design concept for children's software, we replicated two of the original Media Equation studies, concerning the effects of praise and team formation. Our results, however, were contrary to our expectations: we did not find evidence that children were significantly affected by social characteristics in software, and adults were influenced in only a few cases. These results raise questions about using the Media Equation as a design principle for children's software.




Sonia Chiasson Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Effects of the Media Equation on Children
Computers play an increasingly large part in children's daily lives, yet most interface design research has focused on adult users.


Chiasson, S., Gutwin, C. 2005. Testing the Media Equation with Children. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 829-838.


@inproceedings {media-eq-kids,
author= {Sonia Chiasson and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Testing the Media Equation with Children},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
year= {2005},
pages= {829-838}