Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

N. Clayton Silver, Chair

Second Committee Member

Marta Meana

Third Committee Member

Murray G. Millar

Graduate Faculty Representative

Satish Sharma

Number of Pages

340

Abstract

The Internet can be a dangerous place for children. Because minors have unrestricted access to adult content, a system of warnings targeting minors on the Internet should be developed. The present studies tested icons for such a system and subsequently to examined selected icons in combination with signal words, color, and warning messages. One hundred and ninety three adults and eleven children participated in the first study. Participants rated thirty eight icons created by the researcher for their understandability, carefulness, attention-getting, likelihood of encountering and severity of danger, likelihood of avoidance and familiarity. Familiar icons were found to be rated higher in all, but one (avoidance) variables than unfamiliar icons, abstract icons were rated as communicating more danger than concrete icons, and prohibitive icons were rated higher than non-prohibitive icons. Three hundred and fifty three adults and ten children participated in the second study. In this study, the five most effective icons from Study I (effectiveness was the best linear combination of understandability, carefulness, attention-getting, danger, and avoidance) were paired with signal words (STOP and WARNING) in black and red and warning messages, ranging in severity and explicitness. Results indicated that the signal word STOP was rated higher overall than WARNING, the color red was rated higher than black, and ratings for warning messages increased as the message explicitness and severity increased. A significant four-way icon x color x signal word x warning message interaction was found and interpreted. All other interactions were likewise significant; the color x signal word interaction was interpreted to fill in the gap in the interpretation of the larger interaction.

Most of the results were supported in the previous literature findings. However, it was found that for the likelihood of avoidance variable, the most severe message was less effective than the less severe messages for the Crying Baby, Prohibit, and Boy icons. Results and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords

Adult content; Child; Children; Icon; Icons (Computer graphics); Internet and children; Internet and children – Safety measures; Safety; Signs and symbols; Warning labels; Warnings

Disciplines

Child Psychology | Communication | Psychology

Language

English


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