HCDE Researchers Study how Families Manage Screen Time for Young Children

Thursday, May 5, 2016


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Human Centered Design & Engineering researchers are examining how today's families manage screen-based experiences for young children, and how technology can be used to curb tantrums when ‘screen time’ is over.

In a recent study authored by HCDE PhD students Alexis Hiniker and Hyewon Suh, recent Master's graduate Sabina Cao, and Associate Professor Julie Kientz, 55 families reported on how they transition to and from screen-based activities with children aged 1-5.

The researchers found that parents use technology to occupy children primarily when the parent has an independent activity to attend to and can't give the child their full attention. They also found that the child’s often painful transition away from the screen can improve if the technology (as opposed to the parent) helps mediate the transition.

In the paper, the researchers describe the implications for technology designers:

Together, our results show that families value screen media for young children but want these experiences to come with limits. They show that technology can be their partner or their adversary, and that we have the opportunity to make design choices that are the solution to tantrums rather than the cause.

The team will present their findings at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 2016 CHI Conference in San Jose, California, later this month.

Read the full story on UW Today, "Two-minute warnings make kids' 'screen time' tantrums worse" »

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