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Needed a kids corner
We live in a different world today and hence our world view and approach to deal with situations has to be different. Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with the needs of the children, more often than not we tend to become a regulatory authority than a guiding force. This has been the root cause of the much talked about generation gap. For instance, we all grew up in a cultural context where even watching television was controlled and regulated by the parents and other elders in the family. Today most of the children make their own choice as far as watching TV is concerned.
Similarly, with the advent of the “World of Mouse”, that is Internet; parents are increasingly finding it difficult to cope with this new menace, in their own perception of course. The conventional wisdom suggests measures to control the children. However, what is urgently needed is understanding; as far as website usability for children is concerned. While I won’t deny the fact that the medium, because of its uncontrolled nature, can have a negative influence on the young minds, we have to understand the fact that the outside world where they go and interact can have even more negative influence on their minds.
Millions of children already use the Internet, and millions more are coming online each year. Many websites specifically target children with educational or entertainment content, and even mainstream websites are adding "kids' corner" sections for children -- either as a public service or to build brand loyalty from an early age.
Despite this growth in users and services, very little is known about how children actually use websites or how to design sites that will be easy for them to use. Most website designs for kids are based on pure folklore about how kids supposedly behave -- or, at best, by insights gleaned when designers observe their own children, who are hardly representative of average kids, typical Internet skills, or common knowledge about the Web.
A lot of people keep asking me as to what is the way out? Is there a need to control the children as far as web surfing is concerned? In my opinion, that will be a regressive step which may have far reaching consequences as far as a child’s psychological needs are concerned. A progressive society will never try to curb the inquisitive minds of its growing population. The question that we need to address is that what children actually want and what they get. Only then we will be able to find the gap between needs and stuff on offer.