Pass it Back! Kid Apps on Grown-Up Devices

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The "pass-back effect" -- when parents hand their mobile device to kids in the backseat or whenever they're on-the-go -- creates unique challenges to optimize kid-friendly mobile apps and educational …

The "pass-back effect" -- when parents hand their mobile device to kids in the backseat or whenever they're on-the-go -- creates unique challenges to optimize kid-friendly mobile apps and educational opportunities within the constraints of devices designed for grown-ups. Kids' media industry pros discuss challenges & solutions for this diverse & growing niche audience.

Presented at SXSW Interactive 2010.

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  • Thank you so much sharing this presentation. I'm anxious to see the what the 2010 Inintial Observations report has to say but even more interested in seeing what role the iPad will play in all of this. We've seen how the smaller size of the iPhone has a lot to do with the engagement for a toddler because they can hold it without any assistance. It'll be interesting to see how that changes with a device that offers a far more immersive experience but much larger in size.
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  • Play CUGE 1 video when done.
  • CUGE Tester 2 at 1:35
  • PBS tests! There isn’t much information out there, so we’re regularly working with our producers to find opportunities to go into the field.
  • PBS tests! There isn’t much information out there, so we’re regularly working with our producers to find opportunities to go into the field.
  • PBS tests! There isn’t much information out there, so we’re regularly working with our producers to find opportunities to go into the field.
  • 26 Letter Days over 8 weeks - Literacy tips for parents from Sesame Street’s Maria - Sesame Street video clips for children hosted by Elmo “ Letter Library” archive available
  • There are no common networks or platforms for cell phone video delivery Carriers are interested in big, multi-program deals; small trials are difficult Monthly cell phone contracts are unlikely for low-income populations; they prefer pay-as-you-go plans
  • Martha is a big hit! all three games have very fun components. Martha Speaks is really satisfying the "older" kids. Up to 7 years the games are really fun and engaging. Even for kids this age, they are finding and learning new words and this is really exciting for them but there is a definite desire to have a more words in the games. They get the same words over again in the exact same context so there is no challenge to use the words in new ways or to learn new words. I do think we should see gains in vocabulary from the Martha games because the kids are learning them quickly, after 2-3 exposures. Mom's mentioned words like Dart, Halt, Mauve, Teal as new words for their kids and after using these words a few times in the games the kids are now kind of tired and would rather learn new words or use these existing words in new ways. The Martha Says game will probably be the most effective because the kids need to use the words in meaningful ways. They need to make the dogs act out the word in order to move on. The other games on that app don't work the same way, they're more passive and allow kids to use elimination too frequently. There also needs to be consistency in the help function. In pop quiz, Martha repeats the word when you touch her but not in other games. So in Martha Says, if the kid misses the word she says, and they can't read it, they either get "oops too late" or they leave the game, go back to the home screen, and then go back into the game and start over. I had a couple girls show me something new. They figured out that all the pictures they take in the dress up game get saved in the ipod under their pictures. So they would leave the game, click on the pictures icon and scroll through all the doggie pics they made. One girl had over 70 pics.
  • Martha is a big hit! all three games have very fun components. Martha Speaks is really satisfying the "older" kids. Up to 7 years the games are really fun and engaging. Even for kids this age, they are finding and learning new words and this is really exciting for them but there is a definite desire to have a more words in the games. They get the same words over again in the exact same context so there is no challenge to use the words in new ways or to learn new words. I do think we should see gains in vocabulary from the Martha games because the kids are learning them quickly, after 2-3 exposures. Mom's mentioned words like Dart, Halt, Mauve, Teal as new words for their kids and after using these words a few times in the games the kids are now kind of tired and would rather learn new words or use these existing words in new ways. The Martha Says game will probably be the most effective because the kids need to use the words in meaningful ways. They need to make the dogs act out the word in order to move on. The other games on that app don't work the same way, they're more passive and allow kids to use elimination too frequently. There also needs to be consistency in the help function. In pop quiz, Martha repeats the word when you touch her but not in other games. So in Martha Says, if the kid misses the word she says, and they can't read it, they either get "oops too late" or they leave the game, go back to the home screen, and then go back into the game and start over. I had a couple girls show me something new. They figured out that all the pictures they take in the dress up game get saved in the ipod under their pictures. So they would leave the game, click on the pictures icon and scroll through all the doggie pics they made. One girl had over 70 pics.

Transcript

  • 1. Pass it Back! Kid Apps on Grown-Up Devices PBS KIDS Interactive Nina Walia, Associate Director Sara DeWitt, Senior Director This session is #passitback on twitter
  • 2.
    • pass-back effect : when a parent or adult passes their own mobile device to a child to occupy them when they’re on the go
            • back seat of the car
            • at restaurants
            • waiting in line
  • 3.
    • pbskids.org
    This session is #passitback on twitter
  • 4.  
  • 5.
    • pbskids.org
    9 million unique visitors per month
  • 6.  
  • 7. Session Overview
    • The passback audience
    • Usability challenges + solutions
    • Can we prove the phone is an educational platform?
    • Future implications on gaming and education
  • 8. Viewers Like You. #passitback on twitter
  • 9. Pass-Back Effect Audience: Who They Are and What They Want
    • Parents AND Kids
    • Age range of kids: 3-6 year olds
    • Parents passback to distract but educational value relieves the guilt
  • 10. 60% of Top 25 Paid Educational Apps Target Preschoolers iLearn: A Content Analysis of the iTunes App Store’s Education Section , Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 2009
  • 11. Pass-Back Effect Audience: Who They Are and What They Want
    • Age range of kids: 3-6 year olds
    • Parents passback to distract but educational value relieves the guilt
    • Content must be engaging and quiet
  • 12. NOT Quiet
  • 13. Quiet and Engaging
  • 14. Pass-Back Effect Audience: Who They Are and What They Want
    • Age range of kids: 3-6 year olds
    • Parents passback to distract but educational value relieves the guilt
    • Content must be engaging and quiet
    • Most using iPhones vs. iPod Touch
  • 15.
    • How PBS works.
  • 16. Top 10 Usability Tips
    • Eliminate text barriers so the child can start the game on their own.
  • 17. Eliminate Text Barriers
  • 18. Top 10 Usability Tips
    • Eliminate text barriers so the child can start the game on their own.
    • Current hardware demands us to learn how *it* wants *us* to tap.
    • Kids understand back arrows.
    • Landscape mode gives more screen real estate so kids’ fingers don’t overlap on the screen.
    • Disable zoom.
  • 19. Portrait Orientation is a No-No
  • 20. Top 10 Usability Tips
    • Eliminate text barriers so the child can start the game on their own.
    • Current hardware demands us to learn how *it* wants *us* to tap.
    • Kids understand back arrows.
    • Landscape mode gives more screen real estate so kids’ fingers don’t overlap on the screen.
    • Disable zoom.
    • Make hot spots large (or group small areas).
  • 21. Usability Challenges + Solutions
    • Tilt is disorienting (and can lead to broken devices).
    • Memory constraint allows for limited audio, so use it wisely as kids need it as a guide.
  • 22. Top 10 Usability Tips
    • No cursor to “stick” things to or rollover states to allow for prediction means finding other ways to indicate selection and designing for failure/experimentation.
  • 23. Top 10 Usability Tips
    • No cursor to “stick” things to or rollovers to allow for hints means finding other ways to indicate selection and designing for failure/experimentation.
    • Metaphors should mirror kids’ reality.
  • 24. Top Ten Usability Tips
    • Eliminate text barriers so the child can start the game on their own.
    • Current hardware demands us to learn how *it* wants *us* to tap.
    • Kids understand back arrows.
    • Landscape mode gives more screen real estate so kids’ fingers don’t overlap on the screen.
    • Disable zoom.
    • Make hot spots large (or group small areas).
    • Tilt is disorienting (and can lead to broken devices).
    • Memory constraint allow for limited audio, so use it wisely as kids need it as a guide.
    • No cursor to “stick” things to or rollovers to allow for hints means finding other ways to indicate selection and designing for failure/experimentation.
    • Metaphors should mirror kids’ reality.
  • 25.
    • Can kids learn on mobile devices?
  • 26. PBS KIDS Research Studies
    • Regular usability testing, new platform testing
    • Sprint cell phone study - 2006
    • iPhone app study, Super WHY! And Martha Speaks - 2010
    • Industry brief on kids and mobile apps - planned summer 2010
  • 27. The PBS Ready To Learn Cell Phone Study: Learning Letters with Elmo 2006 study
  • 28. 8-week Cell Phone Trial
    • Partners
        • Sesame Workshop
        • PBS KIDS
        • Sprint
        • WestEd
        • GoTV Networks
    • Funded by:
      • U.S. Department of Education’s Ready To
      • Learn Initiative
  • 29. Purpose of the Study
    • Assess effects of intervention between higher- and lower-income households
    • Assess level of acceptance of cell phones as a useful medium for delivering educational content to parents of preschoolers
    • Identify ways parents use cell phones for this content; identify use patterns
  • 30.
    • Parents of 3 and 4 year olds in Los Angeles, Oakland, or Fresno, CA
      • 44.3% below the poverty line
      • 55.7% above the poverty line
    • Training included:
      • Literacy tips
      • Cell phone instruction
      • Take-home pamphlet for reference
    79 Parents as Participants
  • 31.  
  • 32.
    • Participate in at least three Letter Days each week (includes viewing the Maria and Elmo messages)
    • Record viewing in the project pamphlet
    • Complete the survey and provide demographic information
    • Participate in interviews at the end of the project and complete the second survey
    Participant Assignment
  • 33.
    • Children’s knowledge of the alphabet increased
      • 3/4 of participants at or below poverty line reported that children’s knowledge improved to a good or great extent
      • 1/2 of participants above poverty line reported same
    • Parents reported a statistically significant change in number of letters children knew from pre- to post-intervention
    2006 Mobile Study Findings
  • 34.
    • In both groups, children’s knowledge of the alphabet song improved, even though song was not included in the clips
    • In both groups, parents reported engaging in more literacy activities (looking for letters on signs, etc)
    • Parents in lower-income households were more likely to co-view letter video clips
    • Children in lower-income households were more likely to ask to view letter clips
    2006 Study Findings, continued
  • 35.
    • Children and parents are comfortable with the technology
      • Participating children found clips easy to view; mastered cell phone buttons for replay
      • More than 3/4 of parents felt cell phones (used this way) can be an effective learning tool to a good or great extent
    • That said,
    • parents are somewhat concerned that children will damage the cell phone, drain the battery
    2006 Study Findings, continued
  • 36. 2006 -> 2010
  • 37. 1. Relevant Hot Spots
  • 38. 2. Meaningful Drawing
  • 39. 2010 iPhone App Study
    • Super WHY!
    Martha Speaks: Martha’s Dog Party
  • 40.
    • 3-7 year old kids (and their parents) in Washington, DC, and Indianapolis, IN
      • Recruited from Title I schools
      • Evenly split above/below poverty line
    • Trial kick-off included:
      • Kid reading and vocabulary assessments
      • Parent tool overview
      • Parent survey
      • First observations of play
    90 Participants
  • 41. Audio Challenges
  • 42.
    • Are apps usable, age-appropriate, engaging for 3-7 year olds in Title I schools
    • How frequently will kids play? For how long?
    • How appealing is the content and delivery format to kids and parents?
    • How well do the apps foster learning of the target curriculum?
    Purpose of the Study
  • 43.
    • Parents are guided to record feedback using exZact data collection client:
      • Kids’ usage
      • Usability notes
      • Other observations, feedback
    • exZact apps also used for initial parent survey
    • Also surveying teachers on use in the classroom
    Usage and Surveys
  • 44.  
  • 45.  
  • 46.
    • Martha Speaks
      • Engaging kids up to 7
      • Finding and learning new words, but want more
      • Expected good vocabulary acquisition results (kids are learning words in 2-3 plays)
      • Martha Says game looks to be most effective
      • Kids taught the researchers about other functions
    2010 Study Initial Observations
  • 47.
    • Super WHY!
      • Engaging to the target audience
      • Tracing experience doesn’t appear to be meeting goal - kids are using their thumbs
      • Whyatt game successful in comprehension and context for kids who can’t yet read the words.
    • MORE SOON!
    • Report will be ready in mid-April
    • pbskids.org/read
    2010 Study Initial Observations
  • 48. Future Implications Gaming casual gaming games are cheaper devices only do one thing camera : augmented reality Education child development educational standards Apple on-the-go potential
  • 49.
    • Questions?
    • Your own stories?
    #passitback on twitter
  • 50.
    • Nina Walia
    • [email_address]
    • @ missmodular
    Thank you! Sara DeWitt [email_address] @ saradewitt PBS KIDS Mobile Downloads: pbskids.org/mobile PBS KIDS Mobile Technologies & Learning Research: http://pbskids.org/read/research/mobile.html