Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Study finds Usability Problems with Parental Controls

A usability study showing problems with parental control software ...

"Ratings-based parental controls are often used to protect children from exposure to inappropriate media. To compare the usability of common parental controls, Chicago-based usability consultancy User Centric, tested four devices with 20 parents and 20 children ages 9-12.

During individual usability test sessions, all participants were asked to set up parental controls using a television with a V-Chip, a digital video recorder, a game console, and a mobile phone marketed specifically for children under ten. Participants were also asked to rate each device based on ease of use during set up and their confidence in their own success.

FINDINGS
- Failure rates were high: 31% (DVR), 36% (mobile phone), 42% (V-Chip), and 47% (game console). Across all four devices, parents and children had similar failure rates when setting up parental controls. Participants who reported prior experience fared no better than those who had no experience.

- The relationship between ratings systems and their impact on parental controls was unclear to many participants. When using the V-chip, participants were often uncertain if selecting one rating would be sufficient for blocking the more severe ratings. When using the game console, participants were confused whether their selection represented the highest rating allowed or the lowest rating blocked (despite explanations displayed onscreen).

- One third of participants failed to set up parental controls across all the devices. This contrasted sharply with the high confidence ratings given by participant; many participants believed they had successfully activated parental controls when they actually had not."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Usability Resources]

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