PhD students Ying Xu and Joanna Yau have published a paper with Associate Professor Stephanie Reich from the 18th ACM Interactional Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC): "The Added Challenge of Digital Reading: Exploring Young Children's Page Turning Behaviors." IDC conferences feature researchers, educators, and practitioners sharing the latest research findings, innovative methodologies, and new technologies in the areas of inclusive child-centered design, learning, and interaction.
Electronic books (e-books) with audio narration are often touted as enabling pre-literate children to read independently, which, indeed, is the most common way children utilized e-books in the U.S. However, young children may have trouble navigating e-books, as their cognitive and fine motor skills are still developing. Compared to print-books, e-books lack the tactability and tangibility of print books and thus may pose additional challenge to book navigation. To examine this issue, we randomly assigned 174 children aged 3-5 to be read either a print book by an adult (n = 85) or an e-book with audio narration (n = 89) and compared their page-turning behaviors, including disruptive turning (i.e., turning before narration ends), delayed turning (i.e., being inattentive for over one minute after the narration ends), and incorrect page-turning motions. We found that screen-based reading imposes additional cost to children's navigation of the book, especially for children under four years old and those who are less experienced with tablet devices. The learning curve to navigate e-books appears to be steeper than that for print-books. Future e-book design may want to provide scaffolding for young users and those lacking familiarity with touchscreen technologies.