Children and Adults' Perception of Signal Colours, Symbols, and Words in the Context of Cybersecurity Warnings

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  • Research has shown that online security warnings are frequently ignored or misinterpreted by even experienced adult users. Children may be particularly vulnerable because they are not always aware of the risks associated with online threats. Existing work relating to cybersecurity warnings has been done with adults and there are few recommendations for children. We explore this research gap through two user studies with 22 children aged 10-12 years old and with 22 adults. We compare children and adults' perception of warning design parameters (signal colours, symbols, and words) in the context of cybersecurity warnings. Our findings suggest that while there are many similarities in how both groups interpret the signal items, differences exist which should be taken into consideration when designing for children. We adapt existing warning design guidelines by Bauer et al. to provide recommendations for warnings that effectively communicate risk to children.

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  • Copyright © 2019 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2019


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