What and how children search on the web

Sergio Duarte Torres, Ingmar Weber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


The Internet has become an important part of the daily life of children as a source of information and leisure activities. Nonetheless, given that most of the content available on the web is aimed at the general public, children are constantly exposed to inappropriate content, either because the language goes beyond their reading skills, their attention span differs from grown-ups or simple because the content is not targeted at children as is the case of ads and adult content. In this work we employed a large query log sample from a commercial web search engine to identify the struggles and search behavior of children of the age of 6 to young adults of the age of 18. Concretely we hypothesized that the large and complex volume of information to which children are exposed leads to ill-defined searches and to disorientation during the search process. For this purpose, we quantified their search difficulties based on query metrics (e.g. fraction of queries posed in natural language), session metrics (e.g. fraction of abandoned sessions) and click activity (e.g. fraction of ad clicks). We also used the search logs to retrace stages of child development. Concretely we looked for changes in the user interests (e.g. distribution of topics searched), language development (e.g. readability of the content accessed) and cognitive development (e.g. sentiment expressed in the queries) among children and adults. We observed that these metrics clearly demonstrate an increased level of confusion and unsuccessful search sessions among children. We also found a clear relation between the reading level of the clicked pages and the demographics characteristics of the users such as age and average educational attainment of the zone in which the user is located.
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th ACM international conference on Information and knowledge management (CIKM 2011)
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-0717-8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2011
Event20th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, CIKM 2011 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Oct 201128 Oct 2011
Conference number: 20

Publication series



Conference20th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, CIKM 2011
Abbreviated titleCIKM
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • METIS-285125
  • Children
  • IR-79667
  • EC Grant Agreement nr.: FP7/231507
  • query logs
  • session analysis
  • EWI-21500
  • topic classification
  • web search

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