Kiddie Research: Some Guidelines

May 17, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

The practice of performing market research on children will not go away any time soon. It is absolutely vital, after all, that companies be able to target our youth with pinpoint accuracy. In the article “A Guide on Conducting Better Market and User Research with Kids,” Meghan Skapyak of the UX Collective shares some best practices. Apparently these tips can help companies enthrall the most young people while protecting individual study participants. An interesting dichotomy. She writes:

“Kids are a really interesting source of knowledge and insight in the creation of new technology and digital experiences. They’re highly expressive, brutally honest, and have seamlessly integrated technology into their lives while still not fully understanding how it works. They pay close attention to the visual appeal and entertainment-value of an experience, and will very quickly lose interest if a website or app is ‘boring’ or doesn’t look quite right. They’re more prone to error when interacting with a digital experience and way more likely to experiment and play around with elements that aren’t essential to the task at hand. These aspects of children’s interactions with technology make them awesome research participants and testers when researchers structure their sessions correctly. This is no easy task however, as there are lots of methodological, behavioral, structural, and ethical considerations to take in mind while planning out how your team will conduct research with kids in order to achieve the best possible results.”

Skapyak goes on to blend and summarize decades of research on ethical guidelines, structural considerations, and methodological experiments in this field. To her credit, she starts with the command to “keep it ethical” and supplies links to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF’s Ethical Research Involving Children. Only then does she launch into techniques for wringing the most shrewd insights from youngsters. Examples include turning it into a game, giving kids enough time to get comfortable, and treating them as the experts. See the article for more details on how to better sell stuff to kids and plant ideas in their heads while not violating the rights of test subjects.

Cynthia Murrell, May 17, 2023


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