Project: 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. One area of research that has informed adult interface design is the Media Equation, which explains how people respond to media in a fundamentally social manner and how they treat computers as social actors in interactions. To date, it was unknown whether these findings apply to children as well.This thesis investigates the effects of the Media Equation on children in three specific areas: praise, team formation, and politeness. It also examines whether varying the form of the computer affects the Media Equation in any way and whether there are any gender differences in how children respond to the Media Equation.

Little evidence was found to support the existence of Media Equation effects on children. Children responded positively regardless of whether any Media Equation elements were incorporated into the interfaces. These results raise doubts on whether there is any added value to including Media Equation principles into the design of children's interfaces. The results do, however, shed some light on children-computer interaction and lead to a set of guidelines for designers of children's technology.

Contact Sonia Chiasson if you would like more information on this project.

Participants

Sonia Chiasson Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan

Publications

Testing the Media Equation with Children
Chiasson, S., Gutwin, C. (2005), Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 829-838.
Design Principles for Children's Software
Chiasson, S., Gutwin, C. (2005), Technical Report HCI-TR-05-02, Computer Science Department, University of Saskatchewan.
The Effects of the Media Equation on Children
Chiasson, S. (2004) M.Sc. Thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan.