Research Synthesis Design Solution
Observations 04


04 Observations

First Subject Family

The first family we observed consisted of two parents and their two sons, ages 4 and 6. The family has both a stereo system in the living room and a small CD and karaoke machine in the children's playroom. However, when listening to music during dinner, they will often resort to using an iPod attached to speakers in the basement, which is very inconvenient.

A chronic problem for this family is playing music in the car. Their iPod Mini provides a convenient way to transfer large quantities of music between the house and vehicle, but manipulating the iPod while driving can be very dangerous, as the screen is quite small.

  • There are several different listening zones in the house
  • Moving music between locations is extremely difficult
  • Parents don't let their children touch the 'real' stereo

Second Subject Family

The second subject family included two parents and their two daughters, ages 3 and 5. Their house had only one music player, a CD player in the living room placed with the DVD player and other similar electronics. The 5 year old is allowed to put CDs into the player or remove them to play music, but the 3 year old must still ask for permission due to smudged and scratched discs. Music is used as both ambient background sounds and an activity in and of itself (the elder daughter listens to audio books on occasion).

Like the first family, this one also has difficulty transporting music to and from their car. CDs are often left in the car but wanted in the house, or vice versa. CDs get divorced from their cases in the process, further obfuscating the location of any given disc.

  • Children have to prove they can handle CDs without damaging them before they will be trusted to handle them
  • Music serves different purposes and different times
  • Losing or misplacing music is extremely frustrating

Third Subject Family

The third subject family included two parents with a 5 year old boy. They live in a suburban 2-story house and have very simple music players and listening habits. Their equipment includes iPods, which both parents own, and a small stereo in the kitchen. Their music listening habits include attaching their iPod to the kitchen stereo as they eat dinner. They usually just put on a playlist for listening to music in the background as they eat dinner together as a family. The 5 year old boy doesn't have too many musical preferences and usually listens to what his parents listen to. Both parents also listen to music off of their laptop as they work. Overall, the family's music listening habits are centered on activities they conduct.

  • Children like to listen to their parents' music
  • Portability of music is vital
  • Music supports activities, but is not an activity on its own

Key Themes

  • Families with children can't afford to spend too much on music devices
  • Small children may damage CDs or music players
  • Listening to music is usually a passive activity for kids

Cornwell . Su . Treichler . IID 2006 . Human-Computer Interaction Institute . Carnegie Mellon University

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