Today, more than ever before, young children have access to technology. With this newer trend, designers and developers have an opportunity to create products that are educational and exciting, while also ensuring safety and privacy. How can we design best for this unique user base? Let’s explore a few ways to do this!
Make it Understandable
Kids develop much more quickly than adults do, so ages matter. That’s why many children’s items, whether it’s clothing or games, include age ranges of just a few years. A seven year old has very different cognitive and physical abilities than a five year old. For example, from age 3-5 years, kids are able to swipe and tap on touchscreens. From 6-8 years, most can click and understand keystrokes. Finally, kids nine and older are able to drag, scroll, and operate more complex coordination between keyboards and mouses. When designing and developing products for children, it’s important to narrow your target audience to best customize experiences around relevant interests and abilities.
Make it Fun
It’s no secret that kids love to have fun. Knowing this, how can we match these mental models in digital experiences? By designing around stories, including good challenges and conflicts, providing feedback, sharing encouragement, and offering exciting sounds, colors, and visuals. Make your online games like the ones they play with their friends. Games that require creative problem-solving help develop a child’s ability to control their emotions, empathize with others, communicate their opinions, and resolve conflicts. While adults are task-oriented and want limited distractions, kids are more interested in surprises and rewards for their work. Gamification for good!
Make it Safe
Compared to adults, children are much more trusting. Be aware – and be thoughtful – of this. Avoid dark patterns in any form in your product. Ensure what you’re creating is protecting the privacy and personal information of the child, as well as preventing them from being exposed to anything explicit. Children also act emotionally, not rationally, and their decisions reflect that. In addition, children have poor ability to understand abstract concepts and take things literally. Think about these unique characteristics of childhood development as you create interfaces and experiences for younger users.
And there you have it – a few tips and tricks to consider as you work to add wonder, learning, and delight to the lives of our younger generations. As designers, we have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to create understandable, fun, and safe products. We are designing the future! Now, go push those pixels with purpose and passion!
Sources: Research – Nielson Norman Group: https://www.nngroup.com/