Parent support for very young children’s interaction with digital technology

Carr, A. (2017) Parent support for very young children’s interaction with digital technology. In: British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference, 13-15 Sept 2017, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Objective: Touch screen technology potentially affords very young children a developmentally appropriate means of interacting with digital content, ie through sensorimotor exploration. However, limitations in fine motor and cognitive development inevitably constrain the extent to which these early digital interactions are meaningful. The current study examines how parents scaffold children’s early understanding and interaction with digital technology by examining parent-child play in digital (tablet) and physical (toy) contexts.

Design: The study adopted a quasi-experimental, between-subjects design with two play conditions: tablet versus toy.

Methods: Parent-child interactions were recorded in an observation lab. Each session lasted about an hour and comprised periods of parent-child play (tablet versus toy), parent questionnaires and individual child assessments. Across both studies children ranged in age from 10 – 42 months (N = 30).

Results: Interactions were coded for parental support, joint attention, positive and negative affect and engagement. Results suggest that the youngest children needed significant support, with both the physical and cognitive dimensions of the task, with some of the very youngest never managing meaningful interactions with the tablet despite parental help. We observed a marked difference in children’s ability to master the technology, and thus engage in more meaningful interactions at around 18 – 24 months. From age 2 parental scaffolding focused on maintaining engagement with the content of the games, with frequent episodes of successful joint attention observed.

Conclusions: Although very young children, even infants, are using touch screen technologies with increasing frequency, meaningful engagement is largely dependent on parent support, compared to early play in general.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0712 Developmental psychology > BF0721 Child psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Amanda Carr
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2017 14:01
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2017 14:01

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00