Few designers consider how their design will affect the young impressionable minds of children. In reality, more children use the internet today than almost adults, which means designers have a responsibility to bear for the way they create interfaces.
Why it Matters
Children today seem to be more advanced than we were at their age, but the reality is their brains and psychology work at the same pace ours did. Technology is not an automatic. There is always a learning curve.
Interestingly, the way children under age of 7 learn about technology is through tablets and touchscreen based devices. As children reach above age 7, they begin to make the transition to browser-based technology. However, their motor skills haven’t quite gotten to the point where they can physically maneuver browser based applications. Developers must be aware of this if they want to contribute in a positive way to kid-driven websites and apps.
What to Keep in Mind
Mental models, child psychology, language and reading are all important elements for developers to keep in mind. Children don’t develop empathy and concentration until they are almost 6 years of age, and prior to that most kids will have had at least one mobile device in their life. Their mental models are directly affected by this development, meaning they are familiar with buttons and graphics but less familiar with large amounts of written text.
Language and reading elements must also be designed with children in mind. Their ability to comprehend what is on the screen is paramount for them to properly use and assimilate the information presented.
Developing programs and interfaces that are on their level without taking from the quality or fluidity of the design is critical to creating interfaces that resonate with the youngest members of our human family.
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