This article discusses an iPhone App that IDEO has developed to help parents train their children. The Sesame Street character Elmo is used in this App to instill healthy habits such as brushing their teeth, exercising, and going to bed on time in children.
An excerpt from the article:
“It’s the result of a synthesis of extensive “human-centered research” that forms the basis for all the firm’s endeavors. As it will be used by both adults and kids, the project had to reflect the various needs of both, and follows an iPhone-style interface that allows parents to unlock their menus with an easy swipe.”
Based on this, it looks like a lot of thought has gone into understanding the needs of both the parents and kids and consequently in developing a user interface that is intuitive for both the user groups. However, this begs the question as to whether the technique adopted here is appropriate to instill good habits in children, from a developmental psychology perspective? Why is there a need for a mediator, which is nothing but a cartoon character, to do the tasks that parents should perform? Is this reliance on a make-believe character good in the long run and even if this starts showing good results in the beginning, how long would these results last?
Photo credit: Bill Thompson via Wikimedia Commons.