During the last decade, touchless gestural interfaces have been widely studied as one of the most promising interaction paradigms in the context of pervasive displays. In particular, avatars and silhouettes have proved to be effective in making the touchless capacity of displays self-evident. In this paper, we focus on a child–display interaction approach to avatar-based touchless gestural interfaces. We believe that large displays offer an opportunity to stimulate children’s experiences and engagement; for instance, learning about art is very engaging for children but can bring a number of challenges. Our study aims to contribute to the literature on both pervasive displays and child–computer interaction by reporting the results of a study involving 107 children aged 2 to 10 years. The main purposes of this study were to discover: (1) whether an avatar (movable or immovable) provides interactions that are intuitive for children and therefore help to overcome so-called “affordance blindness”; (2) whether an avatar-based touchless interface makes children’s experiences engaging and enjoyable therefore improving recall of content provided through the interaction (learning about art). The study unveiled relevant outcomes in terms of affordance blindness and two-handed interactions. We provide evidence indicating that chronological age influences the style of child–avatar interaction. Finally, it is suggested that avatars could facilitate the development of new effective educational technologies for young children.
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