Searching for spellcheckers: What kids want, what kids need

Brody Downs, Tyler French, Maria Soledad Pera, Katherine Landau Wright, Casey Kennington, and Jerry Alan Fails. 2019. “Searching for spellcheckers: What kids want, what kids need”. In Proceedings of the 18th ACM International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC 2019).


Misspellings in queries used to initiate online searches is an everyday occurrence. When this happens, users either rely on the search engine’s ability to understand their query or they turn to spellcheckers. Spellcheckers are usually based on popular dictionaries or past query logs, leading to spelling suggestions that often better resonate with adult users because that data is more readily available. Based on an educational perspective, previous research reports, and initial analyses of sample search logs, we hypothesize that existing spellcheckers are not suitable for young users who frequently encounter spelling challenges when searching for information online. We present early results of our ongoing research focused on identifying the needs and expectations children have regarding spellcheckers.