Today’s generation is born with digital devices like computers, tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles. Children’s passive engagement with digital mediums (digital devices and the content they offer) has become a primary concern for parents because it limits children’s learning opportunities through physical play. In this digital age, we cannot completely take away these devices from children’s sight. Still, we can create more situations and contexts that encourage children to reduce their time with digital mediums and/or convert children’s passive engagement into an active engagement.
This research-informed design project aimed to understand children’s (aged 8-11) motivations, aspirations, likes, dislikes, and their engagement with different physical and digital activities in their daily lives. Learning from different phases of the design process was applied to design a proposal that helps increase children’s physical play during their engagement with digital activity.
Findings from the exploratory research led to a few opportunity areas, which were further investigated using research through the prototyping method. User personas, their needs, and their involvement in different activities inspired me to define a few design principles which I followed throughout the project to evaluate my design decisions. I set my initial research question as “How might we integrate ‘digital mediums’ with the qualities of ‘physical play’ to provide our children more exciting growth opportunities.” I was able to probe, test, observe, learn, and finally prototype a few scenarios that enabled children’s physical play during the digital activity.
The final concept is “Animo- a digital tool to engages children in a storytelling activity through a physical play.” The concept combined children’s current interest in digital mediums with their interests in the creative activity of drawing and doodling. It creates opportunities for children to BUILD- the creation using two or more mediums, to ENGAGE- in physical play and/or with the surrounding while building the creation, and to SHARE- the creation that eventually increases their social interactions.
Children learn drawing, handwriting, animation, and storytelling skills. They become more curious, observant, and notice more the living and non-living things. Bringing feelings and emotions to their drawings increases their expressive and imaginative abilities. They develop empathy, love, and care by sharing their creation with others. Small recognitions of their creation provide them with a sense of being noticed and encourages them to explore more. Animo helps children learn storytelling through animation, but more than that, it exposes them to the infinite possibilities of learning through physical play.