More on age and technology

This post is a follow-up to the one published recently, about age and web technology.

Google Blogoscoped has a piece, complete with an interview, about the search engine for kids. I do love the idea of a kids friendly search engine, but I’m not sure either Google or Quintura nailed it out just yet.

I think there are a few issues at hand.

First of all, the term “kids” is way too generic. Kids are well-known for their fast developments. Two kids of the same age can vary a lot in their interests and developments. Kids of different age are further apart from each other. If typing search queries in might be a problem for some, because of too many typing mistakes, it can be a showstopper for other kids, who don’t even know how to type yet. So, the search engine “for kids” is just a tiny bit better than any other generic search engine. Search engine for kids should be, I think, more specialized. Like “search engine for girls of 4 years old, who …”, etc.

Secondly, most search engines require a user to know what he wants. The user is forced to define his wishes and needs via search queries. But my rather limited experience with kids tells me that knowing what to look for is not always the keys. They just react. If my son, for example, is shown a picture of a dog and a picture of a cat, he’ll click on the cat. And he’ll continue clicking through for some time, enjoying and studying pictures. But he is not capable as of now to define his wish to find more pictures of cats. So, I don’t think a search engine is something on a “hot list” for many kids.

Thirdly, I think that the problems of generations that exist in the real life, are easily transferable to the digital world. The thing is that most adults have no idea what kids really want and like. Boys like cars, girls like dolls, blah blah blah. But try spending some time with your kid at the toy store. It’ll take you about five minutes to understand how different your understanding of what your kids wants and likes, from the real life. The same is with search engines for kids – adults design and develop them, and adults are about the worst kind of people to do it properly.

What do you think?

Leave a Comment