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Computer science team creates new collaborative way for kids to use technology

Researchers from the University of Iowa created a web-based activity platform for kids to not just focus solely on a screen.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A computer science team has created a new collaborative way in which kids can interact with technology.

The team of researchers from the University of Iowa created an online activity platform called StoryCarnival. Through the website, kids are able to read books, create new stories, and be able to share them with other kids as well.

News 8's Charles Hart spoke with researchers who said the biggest issue they found with kids in preschool is they are more attached to their screens rather than playing outside with friends.

To combat this concern, they can use this web-based platform to interact with other kids their age and be able to keep their attention on learning too.

"We came up with an approach that we propose we call the three C's. And it's about supporting creativity, communication, face to face communication, in a connection with the social and physical environment for young children when they use technology," U of I computer science professor Juan Pablo Hourcade said.

News 8 also spoke with Research Assistant Flannery Currin who said this platform is especially important now, after lockdown due to the pandemic.

"This period of time [ages 3-5]  when they are acquiring language when they are really absorbing everything around them, [during lockdown] where they weren't necessarily able to interact with other kids in person face to face," Currin said. "And so, just kind of getting those opportunities to practice that in kind of a low stress environment is really important right now in particular, I would say."

They said this website is ideal for kids ages 3-5 and has taken them the past 6 years to create. They are also teaming with computer science, graphic design, and creative writing students at the university as they create more for the platform.

Researchers say they will keep this free-to-use platform running, as long as they have the funding.

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