[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 14-Jan-2009
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Contact: Amy Molnar
journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net
201-748-8844
Wiley-Blackwell

Web site design affects how children process information

Age regulates ability to navigate and understand the Web

Tacoma, WA January 14, 2009 A new study in the journal Psychology & Marketing investigates the influence of website design on children's information processing. Results show that the type of interface used can significantly affect how children process and retain information; age strongly affected this relationship.

Researchers used a sample of around 200 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 13 to examine how website design and age affected how children processed information.

Four experimental websites were constructed, which differed in terms of their navigational aids and learning cues. Specifically, websites were designed with either a map, a content list, a map with learning cues, or a content list with learning cues. Learning cues were pop-up windows designed to reinforce specific information as one exit a Web page. Children were randomly assigned to one of the four Websites.

The study found that the type of navigational aid used (map or just a content list), along with the presence or absence of learning cues, significantly affected search accuracy and information recall among younger children (ages 7 9).

Younger children (ages 7 9) preferred a map because they tend to process information holistically. Older children (ages 10 13) were better able to use a content list, because they are more equipped to select information and ignore irrelevant material.

Additionally, to reinforce younger children's learning of Web information, learning cues were provided to emphasize specific information to be remembered. These learning cues aided younger children's recall of information, while older children were able to process this information without these cues.

"Our study begins to apply basic principles of children's information processing to web site design," the authors conclude. "Web sites should be customized to facilitate the abilities of children of different ages. Specifically for younger children (ages 7 9), Web sites should include a map to promote information search, and learning cues to aid in the learning of specific Web content."

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This study is published in the January 2009 issue of Psychology & Marketing. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Mei Rose is affiliated with The University of Puget Sound and can be reached for questions at mrose@ups.edu.

Psychology & Marketing (P&M) publishes original research and review articles dealing with the application of psychological theories and techniques to marketing. As an interdisciplinary journal, P&M serves practitioners and academicians in the fields of psychology and marketing and is an appropriate outlet for articles designed to be of interest, concern, and applied value to its audience of scholars and professionals.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.



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