Today, my almost-six-year-old daughter and I were playing “Agatha Christie – 4:50 from Paddington,” a great seek-and-find game from Acer Games. You usually just have to locate an object hidden among other objects, but sometimes it’s necessary to combine two objects.
In this example, my daughter had to click a key, and then click a lock. The problem I quickly noticed was this:
When she clicked on the key, the cursor would “pick up” the key. She’d then try to click the lock using the picture of the key rather than the cursor.
I watched her try this a couple of times before saying, “You have to click on the lock using the cursor.”
“I am,” she replied, clicking the button while holding the picture of the key over the picture of the lock.
“No, the cursor,” I said, “The white arrow that you use to click on things.”
“White arrow?” she asked, putting her face up close to the screen.
“The triangle-looking white thing that moves when you move the mouse.”
“I don’t see it,” she said, shaking her head.
“There!” I said, pointing to the screen. “Right. There!”
It’s hard for me to articulate what happened next. She frowned a bit, tilted her head, and then her expression brightened.
“Oh! I see it! I see it!”
It’s my decidedly unscientific impression that this wasn’t simply a language issue, but rather that to a kid who started messing with computers at two, that little arrow was as invisible as the nose on her face.