Research Insights 8 & 9

Posted on: Thursday 04 July 2013 6:55pm by Jon Hancock


Research 8: Keep Taking the Tablets: iPads, Young Children and Story Apps

Great session with solid research and good stats. As an app developer, good to know what works and doesn’t work for engaging kids with apps. Practical information is thin on the ground, so great to hear it from the researchers!
Jennifer Wilson

Really intriguing in-depth look at child behavior online, though I would have liked some more future facing analysis drawn from the data. The content on tablet apps and books was interesting for those looking at building apps, but otherwise hovered on a middle ground between developmental psychology and commercial advice; at times it seemed a bit confused and undirected.
Samuel Gee

Top takeaways:

  1. App design needs to be informed by what we know about children’s play and physical interests
  2. The app icon needs to be attractive and recognisable for children. Character rather than title/written words
  3. Interactive elements need to be based on what kids are used to in real life
  4. Children get frustrated if they want to move on or go back and can’t see how – they will press the home button and leave the app. So within the app there needs to be a clear way of going back to the beginning should they wish
  5. Ask questions direct on twitter: #dylanyamada-rice
  6. Internet usage:

• 86% of 7-11s are using online communication tools
• 36% of 7-11’s have used moderator functions because they feel they’ve come in contact with something they shouldn’t have.

This was a presentation of observational research work about how young children interact with story apps: ‘5 Little Monkeys “JumpOnBed”’ and ‘The Heart and the Bottle’.

It was observed that children’s gestures on the iPad were based on how they use physical objects. They will naturally draw using a crayon they see on an iPad, as they’re used to performing this function in the real world. Conversely, to tap the screen in order to make flowers appear was an alien concept so they found it difficult to know what was expected of them.

Peppa’s Party Time was very popular. Making a cake was an activity within the life experiences of most children therefore they picked up the associated movements, even though they were not the same physical movements as in real world (e.g. moving a finger from side to side in order to mix ingredients in a bowl).

Where in years before there have been thoughts that screens might be distracting and unhelpful to small children, there is unanimous belief that screens are just another way of engaging children in literacy practices. Yes, a small minority of children may become obsessed with screens (as much as any small children will become obsessed by anything I wonder?) but this receives disproportionate coverage and shouldn’t overshadow the development of this exciting platform.

Presented by:
Karen Daniels (Senior Lecturer Primary English, Sheffield Hallam Uni)
Dr Dylan Yamada-Rice (Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, University of Sheffield)

Research 9: A Better Internet for Children – Are We There Yet?

Research from Childnet international.

The Presentation can be veiwed online at:

The full report on which it’s based is available at:

• 86% 7-11s are using online communication tools
• 56% using FB/Twitter
• 38% chat in games
• 28% use webcam/video chat functions
• By age 11, only 5% are saying they don’t use any online/mobile services to connect with others.

And in terms of negative internet usage:
• 36% of 7-11’s have used moderator functions because they feel they’ve come in contact with something they shouldn’t have.
• 31% said that people being unkind stops them enjoying the internet.
• 40% knew of someone who had been cyber-bullied.
• 27% of 7-11s have seen something on the internet in the last year that upset/worried them.
• 24% of 7-11s said that adverts stop them enjoying their content online. Some mentioned adverts that they find scary (charity or war game adverts).
• 19% of 7-11s said that being contacted by people they don’t know stops them having fun on the internet. Others would say that they know what to do if that happens.

View this presentation

Presented by:
Hannah Broadbent (Childnet International)

Producer: Shazia Ali

Event Reports

Jon Hancock, Series Producer – CBeebies

About the author

Jon Hancock

CBeebies, Series Producer

I have worked in BBC Children's for 13+ years, CBBC and CBeebies.  As Series Producer of 'Mr Bloom's Nursery', 2012 saw us undertake a massive series out on the road together with a live event that attracted 30,000+ visitors.  In this first half of 2013 I've been Series Producing the… Read more