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An student at Monash University has designed a new platform to encourage social interaction among children.

Chulin Yang, a Masters student in Interaction Design at Monash Art Design & Architecture (MADA), worked with supervisor Dr Stephen Jia Wang on an idea to help break the boundaries of social interaction and enhance experiences among children by facilitating their social behaviour. The prototype is an interactive environment that assists children aged three to eight to conquer fear during social communication.

Observing that social anxiety and disorders are major social issues for young children, Yang explains that the interactive display aims to develop connections between children. This platform has been designed to support various interesting applications.

One of the games called ‘Seesaw’ has children touching the large display to create bubbles – the longer they touch the screen the bigger the bubble will be. Children work in teams to create bubbles on each side of the Seesaw, aiming to get more on their side. Eventually the bubbles fade, leaving the game to continue for the next group of children.

The large display is expected to be used as a media to facilitate interactive social behaviours in public spaces where there are usually long waiting times for children such as airports, railway stations, and hospitals.

According to Yang, future enhancements will see the game being played by kids physically present in the same room, or even virtually - a child at an airport in Australia could be playing with a child at a railway station in the United Kingdom. The platform also supports other games and activities such as a sand-pit type interactive display, which will see children using sand to create images on a screen.

Dr Wang, Senior lecturer at MADA, and also the founder and director of the Masters program, said products have been made using newly developed technology for child development, but they usually missed the point about encouraging social interactions between children.

In addition to adding more activities and games to the platform, the development team will examine the display’s education and long-term influence on child behaviour.