Mapping child–computer interaction research through co-word analysis

Mapping child–computer interaction research through co-word analysis

Table of Contents


This paper employs hierarchical clustering, strategic diagrams, and network analysis to construct an intellectual map of the Child–Computer Interaction research field (CCI) and to visualize the thematic landscape of this field using co-word analysis. This approach assumes that an article’s keywords constitute an adequate description of its content and reflect the topics that the article covers. It also assumes that the co-occurrence of two or more keywords within the same article indicates a linkage between those topics. This study quantifies the thematic landscape of the CCI field and elaborates on emerging topics as these are manifested in publications in the two primary venues of the CCI field, namely the proceedings of the annual IDC conference and the International Journal of CCI. Overall, a total of 1059 articles, and their respective 2445 unique, author-assigned keywords, are included in our analyses — all papers have been published between 2003 and 2018. The results indicate that the community has focused (i.e., high-frequency keywords) in areas including Participatory Design, Tangibles, Design, Education, Coding, and Making. These areas also demonstrate a high degree of ’’coreness’’ (i.e., connection with different topics) and ’’constraint’’ (i.e., connection with otherwise isolated topics). The analysis also highlights well-structured yet peripheral topics, as well as topics that are either marginally interesting or have the potential to become of major importance to the entire research network in the near future. Limitations of the approach and future work plans conclude the paper.


Co-word analysis, Child–computer interaction, Literature review


Child–Computer Interaction (CCI) is a multidisciplinary area of scientific investigation that concerns the phenomena surrounding the interaction between children and computational and communication technologies [1]. The research community that investigates this area, combines inputs and perspectives from multiple scientific disciplines informing and supporting an area of research and industrial practice that concerns the design, evaluation, and implementation of interactive computer systems for children, and the wider impact of technology on children and society [2]. During the first years of the community the children of interest ranged from 3 to 12 years old; during recent years the community has extended its interests and today is concerned with children ranging from toddlers to teenagers [1]. CCI is a field that is continuously evolving and growing, so it is important to evaluate and understand the core foundations of its current state, as well as to reflect and identify emerging trends that could have a major influence in the future.

A content analysis of all papers published in the proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children (IDC) conference series between 2002 and 2010, focused on aspects related to the values and motivations of the analyzed papers [3]. Another survey of the IDC literature by Jensen and Skov [4], examined the research methods used in CCI and demonstrated that in most cases CCI researchers used methods borrowed from HCI and adapted them for use with children where possible. This review included articles published until 2004. More recent literature reviews have aimed to capture and present the state-of-the-art in specific areas (e.g., game-based learning in primary education [5], learning technologies for children 8 years old and younger [6], maker movement [7]), to demonstrate and elaborate on the intersection of CCI with other relevant research fields such as tangible interaction [8], storytelling [9] and autism [10], and to provide a synopsis of the overall progress in CCI [1,2].

As the CCI research community evolves and matures, it is useful, in order to guide future research, to systematically identify core topics, marginal contributions, under-developed themes, and forthcoming ideas that are worth investing in. Furthermore, it is instructive to characterize how topics transition between these states, and to describe the association strength of topics developed in this discipline. In order to contribute towards a systematic mapping of the big picture of CCI research, the present study focuses on identifying the concepts that reflect the thematic areas of interest of the CCI community, using hierarchical clustering, strategic diagrams, and graph theory.

To achieve this ambitious objective, the paper employs a method called ‘‘co-word analysis’’. This scientometric method examines the associations and networks among concepts, ideas, and issues that have contributed to the maturation of the field to date [11]. A core simplifying assumption for co-word analysis is that an article’s keywords provide an adequate summary of its content, and thus can be utilized to reduce a large space of descriptors (i.e., article text) to a network graph of smaller related spaces (i.e., keywords) [12]. Co-word analysis is based on the assumption that the co-occurrence of two (or more) keywords within the same paper indicates a linkage between those topics, whilst the presence of many co-occurrences around the same keywords (or pair of keywords) suggests a locus of strategic alliance within articles that may reflect a research theme [12]. As such, co-word analysis can support researchers to identify key patterns and trends that point to a particular change in a research topic (e.g., emerging or declining research interests) or a change in research direction (e.g., paradigm change), based on the graph of keywords [13].

The present study maps the intellectual progress of the CCI landscape, as reflected in the publications of the IDC conference and the ijCCI. IDC and ijCCI were chosen because of being the flagship publication venues of the CCI community. As such, they provide a solid foundation to the related work published to date. During the last 16 years, 1059 papers have been published in IDC and ijCCI and to a large extent constitute currently the corpus of the CCI field. Although the field is relatively new, considerable work has been published, allowing us to observe where the field currently stands, what are the current challenges and opportunities that researchers face, and what will be the potential driving forces in the near future. Accordingly, this work contributes as follows:

• It maps the intellectual progress of CCI research;

• It identifies declining or emerging CCI research themes;

• It highlights CCI topics as popular or core research topics within the discipline;

• It facilitates the process of understanding the differences and commonalities of the various sub-fields of CCI.

Conclusion and ongoing work

CCI is a growing community with its flagship annual conference (IDC) and journal (ijCCI), as well as several neighboring conferences and journals (e.g., CHI, CSCW, ToCHI). Although the genesis of the community goes back to the 1960s, CCI is continuously growing and evolving. As the community grows, there is an acute need to map the intellectual progress of the different topical areas, facilitate the understanding of where we are, debate on where we want to be, and initiate a dialog on how to get there. The present study performed a co-word analysis of the CCI flagship publication channels in order to quantify the conceptual structure of the field and identify its intellectual evolution (e.g., core, popular, emerging topics). The current findings suggest that CCI is significantly growing during this decade. It has several motor-themes, (e.g., interaction design, play, child-robot interaction, learning, education, making, to mention a few), that are summarized in 4 big clusters (see Fig. 4 and Table 1 together). The results coming from the analysis of the two periods depict that tangibles seem to lost some of their ‘‘domination’’, while topics such as PD, coding, autism, and education are significantly strengthened, and other topics such as making, constructionist and child robot interaction appear in the second period, taking the positions of interactive surfaces, mobile, educational technology in the 12 most frequent keywords of the second period.

Overall, PD, tangibles, design, coding, making, learning, and education, appear as a driving force in CCI. In addition, the results cluster into 14 major research themes (Table 1) that can help us to facilitate the process of understanding the similarities and differences in the various well-developed sub-field (e.g., constructionism; assistive technologies; connecting families; tangibles; informal learning, etc.) and use it to gradually create a more dense and internally connected network. Future work can put into practice different analyses (e.g., authorship or citation analysis) or more qualitative approaches like systematic literature review and systematic mapping. In addition, text mining techniques can be used to extract the keywords and overcome the authors’ bias. Moreover, future endeavors can include CCI publications coming from other venues and journals, (e.g., dedicated special issues to CCI or selection of CCI contributions coming from CHI, CSCW, ToCHI, etc.). Finally, further analysis should consider investigating potential differences in the use of terms after the inception of IDC (e.g., the community did not use the term Child Computer Interaction early on). Such an analysis will reveal areas that emerged recently, areas that disappeared, and areas that simply transformed into something new (e.g., merged or changed their terminology).

About KSRA

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:


Mapping child–computer interaction research through co-word analysis



Michail Giannakos a,∗ , Zacharoula Papamitsiou a, Panos Markopoulos b, Janet Read c, Juan Pablo Hourcade d
a Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
b Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
c University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
d University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA




Mapping child–computer interaction research through co-word analysis

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ELSEVIER, International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction


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Nasim Gazerani was born in 1983 in Arak. She holds a Master's degree in Software Engineering from UM University of Malaysia.

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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.

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Somayeh Nosrati was born in 1982 in Tehran. She holds a Master's degree in artificial intelligence from Khatam University of Tehran.