MIT: A Developmental Lens for Designing Virtual Worlds for Children and Youth (Børn og Unge)

tavle_edutainmentMIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Keywords
  • virtual worlds
  • virtual communities
  • children and youth
  • technology
  • computers

Abstract
Virtual communities have been extensively examined-including their history, how to define them, how to design tools to support them, and how to analyze them. However, most of this research has focused on adult virtual communities, ignoring the unique considerations of virtual communities for children and youth. Young people have personal, social, and cognitive differences from adults. Thus, while some of the existing research into adult virtual communities may be applicable, it lacks a developmental lens.

Based on our work of designing and researching virtual worlds for youth, we describe six important aspects of virtual worlds for children, with each aspect manifesting itself differently at each stage of  human development: (1) purpose, (2) communication, (3) participation, (4) play, (5) artifacts, and (6) rules. By understanding how these six aspects impact youth virtual communities, researchers will be better able to evaluate and design them.

Laura Beals og Marina Umaschi Bers
Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, Tufts University

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