What and how children search on the web

by Sergio Duarte Torres and Ingmar Weber 

The Internet has become an important part of the daily life of children as a source of information and leisure activities. Nonetheless, given that most of the content available on the web is aimed at the general public, children are constantly exposed to inappropriate content, either because the language goes beyond their reading skills, their attention span differs from grown-ups or simple because the content is not targeted at children as is the case of ads and adult content. In this work we employed a large query log sample from a commercial web search engine to identify the struggles and search behavior of children of the age of 6 to young adults of the age of 18. Concretely we hypothesized that the large and complex volume of information to which children are exposed leads to ill-defined searches and to disorientation during the search process. For this purpose, we quantified their search difficulties based on query metrics (e.g. fraction of queries posed in natural language), session metrics (e.g. fraction of abandoned sessions) and click activity (e.g. fraction of ad clicks). We also used the search logs to retrace stages of child development. Concretely we looked for changes in the user interests (e.g. distribution of topics searched), language development (e.g. readability of the content accessed) and cognitive development (e.g. sentiment expressed in the queries) among children and adults. We observed that these metrics clearly demonstrate an increased level of confusion and unsuccessful search sessions among children. We also found a clear relation between the reading level of the clicked pages and the demographics characteristics of the users such as age and average educational attainment of the zone in which the user is located. Read the paper

Web search query assistance functionality for young audiences

by Carsten Eickhoff, Tamara Polajnar, Karl Gyllstrom, Sergio Duarte Torres and Richard Glassey.

The Internet plays an important role in people’s daily lives. This is not only true for adults, but also holds for children; however, current web search engines are designed with adult users and their cognitive abilities in mind. Consequently, children face considerable barriers when using these information systems. In this work, we demonstrate the use of query assistance and search moderation techniques as well as appropriate interface design to overcome or mitigate these challenges. Read the paper.

Visual Exploration of Health Information for Children

by Frans van der Sluis, Sergio Duarte Torres, Djoerd Hiemstra, Betsy van Dijk, Frea Kruisinga 

Children experience several difficulties retrieving informa- tion using current Information Retrieval (IR) systems. Particularly, chil- dren struggle to find the right keywords to construct queries given their lack of domain knowledge. This problem is even more critical in the case of the specialized health domain. In this work we present a novel method to address this problem using a cross-media search interface in which the textual data is searched through visual images. This solution aims to solve the recall and recognition problem which is salient for health information, by replacing the need for a vocabulary with the easy task of recognising the different body parts. Read the paper.