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Home » 3 ways app developers are keeping kids glued to Screens – and What to do about it

3 ways app developers are keeping kids glued to Screens – and What to do about it

3 ways app developers are keeping kids glued to Screens - and What to do about it

3 ways app developers are keeping kids glued to Screens – and What to do about it. From learning numbers to learning how to brush teeth, it seems like everything has an app for kids.

Recent US statistics indicate that more than half of toddlers and three-quarters of preschoolers regularly access mobile apps. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is an explosion of options in the app market to appeal to children.

These apps certainly offer a fun interactive experience, not to mention good educational content in many cases. They are also very good at attracting young souls. So what’s the problem?

You just read it:
They’re so good at engaging young minds – that kids may find it hard to put down their devices. If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to rob your kids of their devices, read on.

What is persuasive design?

While there are national recommendations to help guide parents through the minefield of screen time in children, there’s one piece of the puzzle that hasn’t been widely recognized – and that’s how. The technology that supports it -even is designed. Persuasive design refers to strategies that attract and hold our attention. It’s something both kids and adults experience (often accidentally) when scrolling through social media or resisting the urge to play another Candy Crush game.

If persuasive design can influence the screen use behavior of adults – who are thought to have developed self-regulation and self-control skills – toddlers and young children will not have the opportunity. festival. This aspect of the screen time debate is rarely taken with the seriousness it deserves.

To find out how persuasive kids’ apps can be, we applied a compelling design model to 132 of the most popular preschool apps by developers. Australian family downloads through the Android and iOS app stores. We’ve found three main ways persuasive design features keep kids coming back.


The key concept of persuasive design is to tap into children’s emotions to ensure they stay motivated to interact with the app. This is done by: provide fun through rewards. Children are still developing the ability to delay gratification. They are more likely to seek an immediate reward of a lower value than to wait for a reward of greater value. In an application context, they are likely to be motivated by instant rewards that provide pleasure or excitement. The apps we tested offer more instant rewards (such as sparklers, cheers, fireworks, virtual toys, and stickers) than delayed rewards.

Induce empathy

Just as adults seek positive feedback through social media likes, children love to receive social feedback from characters they admire (think of Hello Kitty or Bluey). Children often attribute human emotions and intentions to fictional characters and may form emotional relationships with them. While this can help promote a positive learning experience, it can also be exploited for commercial gain. For example, character empathy is threatened when Hello Kitty sadly stares at a shiny locked food box that can only be opened in the paid version of the app. 


No one wants to play a game that is too hard to win. Capability features provide children with ongoing guidance to reduce the likelihood of disengagement.

One way to increase a child’s sense of mastery is to repeat. Many childhood applications include rote learning, such as making the same cookie over and over with Cookie Monster. By including quick learning tasks and repeating them, app designers may be trying to tap into children’s growing sense of self-control by helping them “win” themselves.

So what’s the deal with that? While repetition is great for learning (especially for intellectual development), eliminating any requests for help from parents can encourage more alone use of the app. It can also make it harder for parents to engage in social games with their children.


Commercial reminders are the most common trigger we find in apps for young children, especially free apps. They have one main goal:
to earn income.

Reminders include pop-ups, offers to double or triple rewards in exchange for viewing ads or prompting users to make in-app purchases. While adults can see prompts for what they mean, children are much less likely to understand the underlying business purpose.

So what can be done? Sure, some of these features in moderation will help maintain basic app engagement. But our research clearly shows that many compelling design features exist solely to serve business models.

We need to have more conversations about ethical design that doesn’t take advantage of children’s developmental vulnerabilities. This includes application developer accountability.

The market for preschool apps is huge. Parents often don’t have enough information on how to navigate or don’t have enough time to evaluate each app before downloading it to their child.

However, there are a few ways parents can get the upper hand:

talk to your kids after they play with an app. Ask questions like “what did you learn? or “what do you like best?” “.

Play the app with your kids and decide whether to keep it. Are they stifled by rewards? Are there many distracting reminders? Is it too repetitive to be truly educational?

look for the ‘teacher approved’ indicator (on the Play Store) when reviewing an app, or check reviews from trusted sources such as Children and Media Australia and Common Sense Media before downloading.

Ideally, your child should lead the game, actively solve the problem, and be able to complete their time on the app with relative ease 카지노사이트