Changing children's relationship with technology.
3 Months - UX Design
Research began with observations from personal experiences with my family which was the fuel that motivated me to work on a project in this area. I achieved my main findings from interviews with stakeholders and configuring them using techniques such as challenge mapping, affinity mapping and value proposition mapping.
I captured these insights into 2 variants of personas and user journey maps to capture both the child and parent perspectives. From these, I was able to develop a focus for design principles.
The following are design principles that were developed from insights captured during research.
1. An Anchor
The concept had to provide an opportunity for a discussion between parent and child. The concept had to show a means of giving the child an opportunity to have their say in terms of limiting screen time. It can act as the middle man where the discussion can be a level playing ground in the eyes of the child. By doing so, the parent could experience less conflict and present their demands.
2. An Mediator
The concept had to ultimately limit the child’s screen time and provide the parent with control over the system.
3, A Breach in the Habitual
Children who are very familiar with tablets develop habits that are embedded as second nature. Habits such as keeping the iPad under their pillow so that they can use it first thing in the morning. This is due to the ability of being able to bring the tablet around with you and placing it wherever you want. The concept had to oppose this form of interaction. A vessel to gain formality and respect for their tech use.
4. A Form of Guidance
In regards to children who are lost without their tech, a form of guidance to other activities and introducing them to new things had to be involved in the concept.
Various sketches during conceptualisation
User testing was challenging due to restrictions of Covid 19 at the time. My solution was sending sketch prototypes to the families that volunteered. I introduced the concept to them and I personally acted as the app element for the few weeks of testing as support.
User testing was carried out to see how the concept would effect the dynamics between parent and child and analyse the child’s behaviour with the overall intervention.
From testing, the children developed a much more healthier balance with their tech and activities beyond the screen. One of the children, who is 8 years old and can be considered an extreme case in terms of how reliant he was with his iPad, became more comfortable with social interactions. One day during testing, he went outside to call for a friend which was the first time he ever did it.
“This transformed that child.” - Child’s Mother
Another family mentioned how the token aspect helped their child be selective and manage their screen time.
“It made her aware of the amount of time she had and using it sparingly for the first time ever. She didn’t take a big greedy gulp, she knew she had to spread it out over a period of time otherwise she wouldn’t enjoy it.” - Child’s Father
Usability testing with 3 families for over 6 weeks showed how effective the overall solution was as the children were being more explorative with their new found time.
Image of low fi sketch model used during testing.
Child running to his friends house for the first time ever.
Child deciding which token to use during tests.
UI Development: Parent
The intention when designing the parent side of the app was that it had to be simple and provide what is needed.
Low Fi Wireframe V.1.
Low Fi Wireframe V.3
Variants of my low fi wireframes were tested with parents. From the results, I was able to develop mid fi wireframes.
Sitemap of Parents App after User Testing
Mid Fi Wireframe V.2
The final iteration was achieved through further testing using multiple versions of mid fi wireframes I developed.
UI Development: Child
In terms of the child interaction, it was aimed that the UI should steer them away from the tablet when they haven’t decided to use their limited time but it should not interfere with their activity when they are using it.
There is also a passive screen when the child has not yet decided to use their remaining time. the function of this screen is to act as a standby screen and to compliment the theme of the intervention and to playfully provide information to the user.
The aesthetic changes to correspond with the time of the day and clearly informs the child of what to do if they desire to use their tablet.
Values Beyond the Screen:
The physical presence of the lighthouse introduces and maintains the notion of intervention to the child but in a more welcoming manor to show that it is more than just a screen blocker.
The intent of the overall project was to not design another screen blocker. It was to respect what a child wants but also help them gain control of their urge and discover that there is more to life than the screen.
If you impose restriction of screen time without options and explanation, the child will be frustrated and left feeling misunderstood. This project shows the importance and potential of communication between parent and child. It is a basis of togetherness to overcome and obstacle rather the obstacle becoming a barrier between them.