Analysis of Search and Browsing Behavior of Young Users on the Web

by Sergio Duarte Torres, Ingmar Weber, and Djoerd Hiemstra

The Internet is increasingly used by young children for all kinds of purposes. Nonetheless, there are not many resources especially designed for children on the Internet and most of the content online is designed for grown-up users. This situation is problematic if we consider the large differences between young users and adults since their topic interests, computer skills, and language capabilities evolve rapidly during childhood. There is little research aimed at exploring and measuring the difficulties that children encounter on the Internet when searching for information and browsing for content. In the first part of this work, we employed query logs from a commercial search engine to quantify the difficulties children of different ages encounter on the Internet and to characterize the topics that they search for. We employed query metrics (e.g., the fraction of queries posed in natural language), session metrics (e.g., the fraction of abandoned sessions), and click activity (e.g., the fraction of ad clicks). The search logs were also used to retrace stages of child development. Concretely, we looked for changes in interests (e.g., the distribution of topics searched) and language development (e.g., the readability of the content accessed and the vocabulary size).

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Published in ACM Transactions on the Web (TWEB) Volume 8 Issue 2.

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