Research Topic

Touch screen tablets touching children's lives

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About this Research Topic

Touch screen tablets have greatly expanded the technology accessible to preschoolers, toddlers and even infants, given that they do not require the fine motor skills required for using traditional computers.

Many parents and educators wish to make evidence-based decisions ...

Touch screen tablets have greatly expanded the technology accessible to preschoolers, toddlers and even infants, given that they do not require the fine motor skills required for using traditional computers.

Many parents and educators wish to make evidence-based decisions regarding young children’s technology use, yet technological advancements continue to occur faster than researchers can keep up with. Accordingly, despite touch screen tablets entering society more than 5 years ago, we are in the infancy of research concerning interactive media and children.

The topic has gained traction in the past couple of years. For example theoretical papers have discussed how interactive media activities differ from physical toys and passive media (Christakis, 2014), and how educational apps development should utilise the four “pillars” of learning (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015). Yet there has been little experimental research published on young children and touch screen use.

We plan to use this Research Topic to move forward our understanding of how young children interact with touch screen technology, the impact that it has on them, mediators of these effects, and individual differences. By doing so we aim to collate a body of much-sought research that can increase academics’, industries’, educators’ and parents’ understanding of the impact that touch screen technology has on young children’s lives. We especially welcome submissions focused on children from birth through middle childhood.

Questions that might be addressed include:
- How are touch screen technologies best used in early childhood classrooms?
- How do parents interact with their children when they are using touch screens?
- How do young children understand and control different interactive features of touch screens (e.g., swipe, pinch, shake)?
- How does haptic feedback influence participation and learning?
- How does learning from touch screens compare to learning from other media?
- Are there sub-populations of children for whom touch screens offer a particular advantage?

The research topic may include but is not limited to:
- Descriptive studies reporting how and when young children use interactive media including at home and in classrooms.
- Replication studies using touch screens in cases where studies with traditional media are being used to support claims about interactive media.
- Comparison studies directly comparing learning from a traditional (physical) tasks and an analogous app.
- Transfer and learning studies in which children learn and apply knowledge learnt in one modality (e.g., touch screens) to another (e.g., the physical world).

The submission of research articles, reviews, hypothesis and theory articles, methodological articles, and brief commentaries or opinion pieces are welcomed.

We also encourage both interdisciplinary collaboration between developmental, education, and human-media interaction researchers and partnership between industry and academia.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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