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Children are not so smart online

The Kids aren't alright

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The latest research forom the Nielson Norman stable aims to debunk the myth that kids are technological and online marvels. According to the firm, kids get frustrated with badly designed web sites and are just as likely to leave them in their wake as their adult counterparts.

In what is claimed to be the first study of its kind, the Nielson Norman Group (NNG) has found that children will abandon any web site that is overly complex. Children simply do not have the patience to tackle complex barriers to the surfing experience. Further to that, NNG reckon that most web sites built for children are simply pandering to a commonly held set of misconceptions.

NNG said that while kids might love cool animation on web sites, they will not hang around if it all starts to get too complex. Similarly if children find themselves getting lost in a web site that suffers from bad navigation they will abandon the site in favour of another.

Children are potentially more discerning surfers than even the most experienced Internet bore. The study found that if children don't find a web site immediately satisfying they will go elsewhere. If the wording on a web site is overly complex or just too fancy, again, they will leave. If the navigation is poor they will leave and that pretty much covers it.

In essence kids want quick and easy entertainment sites that utilize humour, colour and multimedia components, says NNG. Kids love animation, they're willing to read instructions but they rarely scroll down pages - preferring instead to interact with information held above the 'fold' or bottom of the visible page.

Despite all of this, and the fact that kids are clearly rather fussy little devils, their was some good news in the report -- for advertisers. Apparently children simply do not distinguish between content and advertising and as such will click on just about anything that looks interesting, colourful and interactive.

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