Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Positive Technological Development for Young Children in the Context of Children's Mobile Apps
by Chau, Clement L., Ph.D., Tufts University, 2014, 169; 3624692
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the extent to which children's tablet software applications, commonly called apps, are designed appropriately to promote the optimal development of preschool children aged three to five. This study extends previous research, particularly the theoretical frameworks of developmentally appropriate practice and Bers' positive technological development. The researcher argues that, for children's mobile apps to be developmentally meaningful, they need to satisfy three conditions: (1) apps must be designed appropriately to accommodate the developmental stages and needs of young children; (2) content must be designed to promote young children's development in the areas of cognition, academic skills, social-emotional skills, and physical development; and (3) digital interactions engage children in activities and behaviors that foster optimal developmental assets. The researcher devised three instruments to evaluate and examine the breadth, depth, and design quality of 100 children's apps from the Apple's App Store for iPad. Content analysis revealed that only a non-significant majority of apps (58%) were meaningfully designed for preschool children in terms of user interface, audio and visual design, and instructional support. The apps selected for this sample included games and learning activities, interactive eBooks, as well as creativity and utility apps. The content of these apps tended to cluster around school skills and they rarely engaged children in activities beyond academic drill-and-practice. These apps largely ignored the social, emotional, and physical aspects of children's development. Using numerous vignettes and examples as illustrations, the analysis highlights design techniques, content offering, and technological features that could be productive toward children's development, as well as those that distract from meaningful user experiences. This study underscores the need for developmentally meaningful children's mobile apps for preschool children.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bers, Marina
Commitee: Buckleitner, Warren, Dobrow, Julie, Pott, Martha
School: Tufts University
Department: Child Development
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Early childhood education, Developmental psychology, Educational technology
Keywords: Child development, Learning apps, Massachusetts, Mobile apps, Tablets
Publication Number: 3624692
ISBN: 978-1-303-98619-2
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