Children’s Perspective on How Emojis Help Them to Recognise Relevant Results Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

Mohammad Aliannejadi, Monica Landoni, Theo Huibers, Emiliana Murgia, and Maria Soledad Pera. 2021. “Children’s Perspective on How Emojis Help Them to Recognise Relevant Results: Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?”. Short paper in Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR ‘21). ACM, 301-305 pp. DOI:10.1145/3406522.3446058.


We discuss the exploratory study we conducted to better understand children’s ability to recognise relevant results when searching in the classroom. Teachers in two European schools sharing the same language assigned their students (ages 10 and 11) an online information discovery exercise about a history topic covered in class. For this, children used a classic search interface and two novel ones enriched with emojis associated to relevant vs. irrelevant results. At the end of the exercise, children filled out a post-task questionnaire meant to elicit their perception on usability of the interfaces. Guided by four lenses, we analyse our findings and discuss whether (i) emoji-enriched interfaces lead to better performance for children using a search engine in the classroom and (ii) “actions speak louder than words’’ when looking at children’s search experience. We learned various lessons from our examination of children’s search behaviour that will guide the design of future interfaces, including the fact that emoji-enriched interfaces result in significant improvement in terms of children identifying relevant resources.