You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Children and Search Agents

Monica Landoni, Emiliana Murgia, Theo Huibers, and Maria Soledad Pera. 2020. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Children and Search Agents”. Poster paper in Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization (UMAP ‘20). ACM, 95-100 pp. DOI:10.1145/3386392.3397604.


Children turn to online search tools to complete classroom-related assignments. Unfortunately, these tools are rarely explicitly tailored to meet children’s needs and skills. We seek to design a Search Agent (SA) for children in the context of education; one that can foster natural, effective and rewarding interactions in the educational context. To do so, we build on previous explorations of children’s interactions with search tools and study how they imagine a SA that can help with assignments required online quests: What are the pragmatic and hedonistic qualities of such SA? Also, do previous experience and familiarity with search technology affect children’s preferences? We involved in our study children ages 10-11 and inquired on factors that define their overall experience with a SA. We outline the steps of our research and the emerging lessons learned so that they can guide the design of a SA.