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Friday, 24 June 2011 14:04

Toddler can spot hardware problems

Written by Nick Farell


New study shows they can tell if its a hardware, software or operator error
A paper published in Science claims that toddlers can spot if an electronic gadget is suffering from a hardware, software or operator effort.

Two experiments performed with 83 toddlers, gave a kid three more or less identical toys. They had different colours. The researcher pressed a button on a green one, which triggered some music. Either the same green toy or a yellow one were then handed to the toddler, while the red one was placed a short distance away. When the child pressed the same button, nothing happened, leaving them wondering if the toy was broken or they had made an error. When handed the green one, which had just played music, they thought it was a user error. They referred it to their parents who they assumed could operate it. When given the yellow one, they assumed the toy was broken; 80 percent of them reached for the red toy because it would be a working replacement. None of them contacted the helpdesk.

The boffins were worried that the toddlers handed the toy to the parents expected them to be fixed. So they arranged another experiment where the toy only worked half the time. Much like my Acer laptop. If the toy worked consistently for one researcher and always failed when another tried to operate it, the toddlers decided it must be an operator problem and handed the toy to their parents.

Nick Farell

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