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According to a new study, Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet , kids are predicting that the future of media and technology lies in better integrating digital experiences with real-world places and activities. They’re also suggesting that more intuitive, human-like interactions with devices, such as those provided by fluid interfaces or robots, are a key area for development.

The multi-phase innovation study was designed and run by Latitude, an international research consultancy that helps clients create engaging content, software and technology that harness the possibilities of the Web. Latitude asked kids across the world to draw the answer to this question: “What would you like your computer or the Internet to do that it can’t do right now?” The goal of the study was to catch a glimpse into possible futures for technology as seen by digital natives, and to highlight actionable opportunities for new content, user experience (UX), and technology offerings. A complete study summary (PDF) is available for download at http://bit.ly/kidstechstudy.

More than 200 kid-innovators, ages 12 and under, from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Panama, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States participated and submitted drawings of their imagined technologies.

Overall, the drawings demonstrated that kids wanted their technology to be more interactive and human, better integrated with their physical lives, and empowering to users by assisting new knowledge or abilities. Several study participants imagined technologies that are just beginning to appear in tech-forward circles, such as Google’s revamped image search, announced on June 14th 2011, which allows users to place images, rather than text, in Google’s search box to perform a query.

Researchers scored the kids’ inventions on the presence of specific technology themes, such as type of interface, degree of interactivity, physical-digital convergence and user’s desired end-goal. See infographic displaying some of the top attributes presented in kids ’ created technologies across world regions.

View some of the kids’ drawings here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37527143@N03/sets/72157626937576399/

“This study is part of our larger research initiative that gives children a real voice in the broader, often very adult, discussion of future technologies,” says Steve Mushkin, founder and president of Latitude. “Across a variety of creative exercises, kids from all over the world have proven, time and again, that they think in extraordinarily sophisticated ways about how tech could enhance their learning, play, and interactions with the people and things around them – and the ways that technology might help us solve the big global problems we all face.”

Kids Innovation and Discovery Studies (KIDS) engages children across the world in creative problem-solving scenarios, providing valuable insights for educators, technologists, and society.

Key insights and business implications from the Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet study include:

-The Digital vs. Physical Divide is Disappearing: Children today don’t neatly divide their virtual interactions from their experiences of the “real world.” For them, these two realms continue to converge as technologies become more interactive, portable, connected and integrated. Nearly 4 in 10 kids imagined technologies that bridged the gap between virtual and physical experiences.

For many kids, the ‘online’ versus ‘offline’ and ‘virtual’ versus ‘real’ distinctions are quickly disappearing,” says Mushkin. “They naturally think about a future in which traditionally ‘online’ interactions make their way into the physical world, and vice versa – a concept already playing out in augmented reality, transmedia storytelling, the Internet of Things, and other recent tech developments.”

-Why Aren’t Computers More Human?: The majority of kids (77%) imagined technologies with more intuitive modes of input (e.g., verbal, gestural, and even telepathic), often capable of human-level responsiveness, suggesting that robots with networking functionality and real-time, natural language processing, could be promising areas of opportunity for companies in education, entertainment, and other industries.

“Kids are asking for computers to look, feel, sound, act – and interact – more like humans,” says Jessica Reinis, a senior research analyst at Latitude who led the study and who specializes in creative methodologies for researching with children. “In many cases, it’s not enough to have a machine that simply completes a task for them; kids today have a strong bent towards independent learning, creation and artistic endeavors, and they’re looking for technologies that can teach them and really engage them in new ways.”

-Technology Can Improve and Empower Us: Instant access to people, information and possibilities reinforces young users’ confidence and interest in self-development. One-third of kids invented technologies that would empower them by fostering knowledge or otherwise “adult” skills, such as speaking a different language or learning how to cook. Some participants moved beyond personal development, envisioning technologies that could foster positive social connections or influence behaviors tied to sustainability.

“One of the sweet spots we see clearly is content and game elements that flow seamlessly between screen space and physical space, and which have the ability to change the ‘real world’ for the better – for instance, online games that generate real currency to help solve societal problems or games that use social motivators and accountability to influence personal behaviors in health, energy use, and so on,” explains Mushkin.

Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet Study Findings Now Available A complete PDF study summary is available for download at http://bit.ly/kidstechstudy.

Read Latitude’s blog posts discussing the findings of the Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet study at the following links:



Latitude Presents Study Findings at Children’s Media Conference in UK Latitude’s Steve Mushkin, founder and president, and Neela Sakaria, senior vice president, will be presenting the findings of Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield, UK on July 7th and 8th 2011. For more information about this session, go to http://www.thechildrensmediaconference.com/2011/event/unlikely-visionaries-how-kids-are-predicting-and-designing-the-future/.

In addition, Latitude just launched a new study in partnership with Project Synthesis and the LEGO Learning Institute called Robots @ School – http://www.latd.com/2011/06/17/study-robots-school/, to further extend some of the present study’s findings.


Over the course of 2010, Latitude asked more than 200 kid innovators, ages 12 and under, from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, South Asia, and Australia to submit drawings of something they’d like their computers or the Internet to do differently. Researchers then scored and analyzed kids’ inventions based on the presence of specific, future-oriented technology themes.

About Latitude’s Kids Innovation and Discovery Studies (KIDS): KIDS is an ongoing research series by Latitude which invites kids from across the globe to tackle big ideas in structured problem-solving scenarios, providing valuable insights for educators, technologists, and society. http://www.latd.com/#kids