In Praise of Slow Children’s Media

Slowing down is valuable for kids, especially on the screen.

7/27/2021 8:29:00 PM

Content made for children is often designed to be fast-paced, whether it be videos or books. But it might be better to slow things down, argues NKucirkova. Here's why.

Slowing down is valuable for kids, especially on the screen.

When e-books and reading apps rose in popularity in 2010, many were designed without the possibility for children to stop or slow down the pace of reading. Letters were flashed at children at milli-second speed, text was read by robot-like narrators who did not pause but whizzed through the text. Some e-books still have these features, some don’t even allow the child to turn the digital page and browse the images at their own pace. This harms children’s learning.

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What's Next?Reading requires a lot of children’s focused attention. To understand a story, children need to have a good vocabulary, sensitivity to the structure of the narrative (set-up, conflict, resolution), ability to access prior knowledge and make inferences to other situations. It is a complex process and it is impeded with texts and images presented in a quick loop.

In contrast, when there are pauses and gaps in text, readers can consolidate their thoughts. They can immerse themselves in the story and let their mind wander to the imagined place painted by the words. Silent moments can be introduced by story authors and illustrators with reflective writing techniques. They can be also intentionally designed by the developers of children’s e-books.

Feeling time-pressured and not having time to consolidate our thoughts is the reason for the current malaise in the Internet debates. With no in-built safeguards and mechanisms for children’s control of the digital design, young readers have become subjects of commercial self-exploitation. The worst kind of design is that where children are bombarded with multimedia

. The best kind of design is responsive to the users, with the possibility to adjust the pace and slow down if they wish to. This is where we must be heading back to with future design.ReferencesKucirkova, N. (2021). The Future of the Self: Understanding Personalization in Childhood and Beyond. Emerald Group Publishing.

Read more: Psychology Today »

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