HCI researchers have established a number of evidence-based design recommendations for children’s touchscreen interfaces based on developmental appropriateness. Yet, these recommendations are scattered within the academic literature and lack a cohesive framework that makes them accessible to app designers. We created a framework of actionable Touchscreen Interaction Design Recommendations for Children (TIDRC, “tiderock”) by conducting a comprehensive review of the relevant literature. We used our TIDRC framework as a lens to empirically evaluate whether these evidence-based design recommendations were implemented within 50 popular iPad apps designed for children. We found a significant gap between research and practice. On average, only 63% of these apps followed design recommendations for meeting children’s cognitive (51%), physical (67%), and socio-emotional (72%) needs. We characterize the nature of this gap and discuss opportunities for closing it when designing mobile touchscreen interfaces for children.
Human-centered computing, Interaction design
Children, touchscreen interfaces, interaction design
Since the commercial rise of touch-enabled devices and virtual app marketplaces such as Apple’s iOS App Store, there has been a drastic increase in the use of touchscreen interfaces by children for games and educational purposes [53,73,74]. According to a 2015 US survey, 90% of toddlers had used a touchscreen by the age of 2 , and 73% of children (ages 5 to 12) report that they regularly use a tablet . In some schools, parents are urged to purchase touchscreen devices in lieu of textbooks . Yet, the developmental appropriateness of software has a significant impact on children’s learning, and using software that is not developmentally appropriate can have a detrimental effect on children’s creative skills . Further, HCI and IDC research has shown that interface design strongly influences children’s interaction experiences with touchscreen apps [1,17,24,72]. Therefore, it is important that apps meant for children are designed for their unique developmental needs, including information design, appearance, and input methods .
A number of HCI researchers (e.g., [1,5,17,23,24]) have conducted empirical user studies to understand how children interact with touchscreen interfaces and have recommended guidelines for better meeting the cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional needs of children. For example, Druin et al.  suggested that interfaces for young children should be highly visual, avoiding text as much as possible, to reduce cognitive load. Unfortunately, such evidence-based design recommendations for children’s touchscreen interfaces are often scattered within the academic literature, making them less accessible to developers [19,48], who are the ones building the touchscreen apps children are using. Therefore, it is uncertain how well these evidence-based guidelines are translated into design practice. As such, we pose the following research questions:
RQ1: How can we synthesize evidence-based design recommendations for children’s touchscreen interfaces? RQ2: Is there a gap between research and practice for touchscreen interface design for children, and if so, how can we characterize its nature? RQ3: If this gap exists, how can we work towards closing it?
To answer these questions, we conducted a comprehensive literature review of the empirical research on interaction design for children’s touchscreen use. We used this meta-analysis to create a conceptual framework of Touchscreen Interaction Design Recommendations for Children (TIDRC, “tide-rock”) for children ages 2 to 11. To synthesize the research into our framework (RQ1), we used a grounded approach  to identify 57 evidence-based design recommendations that researchers suggested for designing touchscreen interfaces for children. We conceptually group these recommendations based on children’s unique cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional abilities  and note the developmental stage  (i.e., pre-operational in ages 2 to 7, concrete operational in ages 7 to 11, or both stages from ages 2 to 11) for which each recommendation should apply (Appendix A). We then used our TIDRC framework as a lens to empirically evaluate the interface design dimensions of 50 popular free iOS learning and entertainment apps for children to compare current interface design practices with evidence-based design recommendations from the literature.
design practice for mobile touchscreen interfaces for children (RQ2). On average, only about 63% of the apps followed design recommendations for meeting children’s cognitive (51%), physical (67%), and socio-emotional (72%) needs. We also identified a lack of literature that included design recommendations for supporting children’s socio-emotional development when using touchscreen interfaces. We use our TIDRC framework to discuss the implications of these results in terms of bridging research and practice in the design of future touchscreen apps (RQ3). We make the following key contributions to HCI and IDC research and practice:
• Developed a conceptual framework of evidence-based design recommendations for children’s touchscreen interactions based on their developmental needs.
• Conducted an empirical analysis of iOS apps to better understand how real-world interface design practices map to these evidence-based design recommendations.
• Characterized the research-practice gap our analysis revealed, by noting interface design dimensions under-studied in research, or research findings under-represented in real-world design, and suggested actionable strategies to bridge this gap.
Our work is a first step toward closing the gap between research evidence and design practice for touchscreen interfaces for children. We will disseminate the TIDRC framework publicly on the web, both to allow other researchers to extend our framework, and to reach the broader design community. Thus, our work will directly benefit application designers and developers who are creating touchscreen interfaces for children.
We introduce the evidence-based Touchscreen Interaction Design Recommendations for Children (TIDRC, “tide-rock”) framework, which we used to conduct an empirical analysis of 50 iPad apps for children to assess whether research-based design guidelines are being implemented in practice. Our TIDRC framework allowed us to identify gaps in practice, as well as open research questions in touchscreen interaction design for children. While most apps tried to accommodate children’s physical abilities, there was a substantial disconnect between design practice and recommendations proposed to meet children’s cognitive and socio-emotional needs. Based on these findings, we present implications for future researchers and designers to consider. We publicly release the TIDRC framework guide as a one-sheet download for researchers and practitioners to easily access at the following URL: https://init.cise.ufl.edu/tidrc/.
The Kavian Scientific Research Association (KSRA) is a non-profit research organization to provide research / educational services in December 2013. The members of the community had formed a virtual group on the Viber social network. The core of the Kavian Scientific Association was formed with these members as founders. These individuals, led by Professor Siavosh Kaviani, decided to launch a scientific / research association with an emphasis on education.
KSRA research association, as a non-profit research firm, is committed to providing research services in the field of knowledge. The main beneficiaries of this association are public or private knowledge-based companies, students, researchers, researchers, professors, universities, and industrial and semi-industrial centers around the world.
Our main services Based on Education for all Spectrum people in the world. We want to make an integration between researches and educations. We believe education is the main right of Human beings. So our services should be concentrated on inclusive education.
The KSRA team partners with local under-served communities around the world to improve the access to and quality of knowledge based on education, amplify and augment learning programs where they exist, and create new opportunities for e-learning where traditional education systems are lacking or non-existent.
FULL Paper PDF file:A Framework of Touchscreen Interaction Design Recommendations for Children (TIDRC): Characterizing the Gap between Research Evidence and Design Practice
A Framework of Touchscreen Interaction Design Recommendations for Children (TIDRC): Characterizing the Gap between Research Evidence and Design Practice
Proceedings of the 18th ACM International Conference on Interaction Design and Children
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Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.