Smart speakers have become pervasive in family homes, creating the potential for these devices to influence parent-child dynamics and parenting behaviors. We investigate the impact of introducing a smart speaker to 10 families with children, over four weeks. We use pre- and post- deployment interviews with the whole family and in-home audio capture of parent-child interactions with the smart speaker for our analysis. Despite the smart speaker causing occasional conflict in the home, we observed that parents lever-aged the smart speaker to further parenting goals. We found three forms of influence the smart speaker has on family dynamics: 1) fostering communication, 2) disrupting access, and 3) augmenting parenting. All of these influences arise from a communally accessible, stand-alone voice interface which democratizes family access to technology. We discuss design implications in furthering parenting practices and behaviors as the capabilities of the technology continue to improve.
Today, Conversational Agents (CA) are deeply integrated into the daily lives of millions of families, which has led children to extensively interact with such devices. Studies have suggested that the social nature of CA makes them a good learning companion for children. Therefore, to understand children's preferences for the use of CAs for the purpose of in-home learning, we conducted three participatory design sessions. In order to identify parents' requirements in this regard, we also included them in the third session. We found that children expect such devices to possess a personality and an advanced level of intelligence, and support multiple content domains and learning modes and human-like conversations. Parents desire such devices to include them in their children's learning activities, foster social engagement, and to allow them to monitor their children's use. This understanding will inform the design of future CAs for the purpose of in-home learning.
Question asking is an important tool for constructing academic knowledge, and a self-reinforcing driver of curiosity. However, research has found that question asking is infrequent in the classroom and children's questions are often superficial, lacking deep reasoning. In this work, we developed a pedagogical agent that encourages children to ask divergent-thinking questions, a more complex form of questions that is associated with curiosity. We conducted a study with 95 fifth grade students, who interacted with an agent that encourages either convergent-thinking or divergent-thinking questions. Results showed that both interventions increased the number of divergent-thinking questions and the fluency of question asking, while they did not significantly alter children's perception of curiosity despite their high intrinsic motivation scores. In addition, children's curiosity trait has a mediating effect on question asking under the divergent-thinking agent, suggesting that question-asking interventions must be personalized to each student based on their tendency to be curious.
For 'looked-after' and adopted children, physical objects are often the only remaining link to their pasts; a portal to stories of former families, homes, and events. The act of reminiscence, known as 'life story work', can help children to process their pasts and overcome trauma. This paper describes the user-centred redesign of Trove, a digital and physical memory box for storing and curating stories about precious objects.We describe our redesign process, synthesising the insights from – previous Trove evaluations with looked-after and adopted children, and three re-design workshops with 4 looked-after children at a therapeutic residential school. Our findings advocate for prioritisation of Trove's digital and physical security, the sustainability of its companionship, and the provision of multimedia storytelling to encourage the construction of identity narratives. Inspired by this, we present and discuss the redeveloped Trove, before analysing our participatory design approach with these complex and under-represented groups.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a heterogeneous and complex set of disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, estimated to affect 2-5% of the North American population. Deficits associated with FASD affect social skill development and executive function, including emotional regulation and impulse control. These deficits can increase the difficulty of playing digital games. While considerable research has been performed in understanding how to design games for people with neurodevelopmental disorders in general, there is little data on how to design engaging games for children with FASD. We conducted a ten-week in-school gaming trial with eleven elementary-aged children with diagnosed or suspected FASD. Participants enjoyed playing together and responded well to the in-game reward system, while some game elements caused unexpected frustration. Based on our observations, we advise that games for FASD be designed to have low cost of failure, avoid retracting options, account for taking breaks when needed, show progression in rewards, and enable cooperative play.