Positive Technological Development for Young Children in the Context of Children's Mobile Apps.
Abstract: 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 rese... read morearcher 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
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
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2014.
Submitted to the Dept. of Child Development.
Advisor: Marina Bers.
Committee: Martha Pott, Julie Dobrow, and Warren Buckleitner.
Keywords: Developmental psychology, Early childhood education, and Educational technology.read less