Children have been exposed to touch screen devices such as tablets and smartphones at an earlier age and for longer periods of time. Recently young children are being targeted as digital consumers as they are the most popular age category for applications on iTunes . Additionally, numerous applications (e.g. Tiggly, Fisher Price Stamp on, Apptivity, Skylander) have enhanced the digital experience for kids through use of physical objects. Researchers furthermore have been conducting formal research in this area of physicality for purposes in education, socialization, visualization, performance, and play.
Research in tangible interaction design for children has shown benefits such as enhancing children’s spatial exploration, communication and collaboration, and strategy forming. While extensive research has looked at the general physicality of tangibles, it’s also important to note that tangibles offer a range of physical properties (e.g. size, shape, texture, temperature, and weight) that convey information. Making contact with tangibles offers instant tactile feedback and the type of feedback depends on the type of material. While the material of tangibles can have implications to interaction, a large area remains unexplored to inform the material design of tangibles used with digital devices.
This paper presents research on how the material of tangibles can influence a child’s digital drawings. The rest of the paper discusses relevant background information, study design and methodology, followed by the findings from the user study with twenty-six children aged 4 to 6 years old.