INTERACTIONS.ACM.ORG 72 INTERACTIONS JULY–AUGUST2017
FORUM UNIVERSAL INTERACTIONS
These include developing child-centered design methods for this age
group, integrating technology with
the socio-physical environment,
promoting creativity and
communication, providing engaging
support for adults, and maintaining
children’s engagement in delayed-gratification activities.
Identifying age-appropriate child-centered design methods is likely to
be a challenge due to how quickly
children’s abilities change from age 3
to 4. Methods should adapt to a child’s
ability to communicate and to their
social and creative skills, and should
also incorporate caregivers. While
it is tempting to rely on parents,
teachers, and child-development
experts to develop designs, we believe
it is important to also include children
in the design process as early and
often as possible.
Integrating technology with
the socio-physical environment
is perhaps the greatest challenge
in designing 3Cs technologies. At
some point during a facilitated
activity, the technology needs to
yield focus to children’s physical
surroundings and to the people there.
This may work in the form of having
technology scaffold activities that do
not involve technology. In fact, 3Cs
apps could be designed specifically
to get children to play without apps.
Another possibility would be for 3Cs
technologies to support connections
with the socio-physical environment
through sensors and actuators
distributed in a physical space.
3Cs technologies should also
promote creative activities and
communication. The challenge is
encouraging children to be authors
and communicators instead of media
consumers. Providing scaffolds
to activities with creative and
communicative aspects can help set the
stage for more independence in both.
The engagement of teachers,
parents, and other caregivers in
3Cs activities is crucial to their
success, as these are not “babysitter”
technologies. We need to inspire
and motivate these caregivers and
give them easily accessible guidance.
Therefore, we must study how to
design and deliver engaging advice and
support for adults.
Then again, we may ask whether
we need the digital realm at all. How
exactly can technology help? We
expect that computer technologies can
provide value in several ways. First,
computers can help bridge abstract
and concrete thinking [ 5] and thus
be a more accessible link to powerful
ideas (e.g., helping with planning
activities). Second, as very flexible
tools, computers can more easily link
children to their strong interests (e.g.,
through media) and enable them to
create a wider array of entities that
could be easily shared. Third, they
can provide additional channels of
communication. Fourth, they can
provide scaffolds to beneficial activities,
making it more likely that they will
be adopted and enhancing them by
providing appropriate supports.
CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPING
There are several challenges involved
in designing and implementing 3Cs
technologies for preschool children.
Non-3Cs vs. 3Cs technology activity characteristics.
On the left, a non-3Cs technology activity at a preschool. On the right, a 3Cs technology activity
at a preschool.
Character-selection screen in StoryCarnival for a space-themed story.