Advertisement

The Digital Dilemma: Why Limit Young Children’s Use of Interactive Media?

  • Sierra Eisen
  • Angeline S. Lillard
Chapter

Abstract

Children are growing up in a digital world. Ninety-eight percent of children have used a mobile touchscreen device before the age of 4 (Rideout, The Common Sense census: Media use by kids age zero to eight, San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media, 2017), and use is quite prevalent even for infants (Bedford et al. Frontiers in Psychology, 7:1108, 2016). Here, we discuss the widespread use of interactive media among children and core differences between digital devices and their media predecessors. We consider the impact of interactive media on children’s physical and cognitive development, focusing on the domains of learning and sleep. Infants and toddlers often fail to transfer information between 2D touchscreen sources and 3D objects (e.g., Moser et al. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 137:137–155, 2015; Zack et al. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27(1):13–26, 2009). However, social scaffolding can facilitate learning from touchscreens (Eisen and Lillard, As good as the real thing? A comparison of learning from apps versus hands-on materials. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development special topic meeting on Technology and Media in Children’s Development, Irvine, CA, 2016; Zimmermann et al. Child Development, 88(6): 2013–2025, 2017) and is a promising new avenue for research. Infants’ use of touchscreen devices is associated with poor quality of nighttime sleep and increased daytime sleep (Cheung et al. Scientific Reports, 7:46104, 2017). This aligns with prior research demonstrating the harmful impact of touchscreens on sleep quality in older children and adolescents (Carter et al. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(12):1202–1208, 2016). Nascent research on the short- and long-term impacts of interactive media leaves open many questions for future examination.

Keywords

Interactive media Young children Digital devices Touchscreen Learning, sleep 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Preparation of this chapter was supported by grants from the Brady Education and John Templeton Foundations to ASL and a predoctoral fellowship from the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course to SE.

References

  1. Ahearne, C., Dilworth, S., Rollings, R., Livingstone, V., & Murray, D. (2016). Touch-screen technology usage in toddlers. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 101(2), 181–183.  https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2015-309278CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2011). Media use by children younger than 2 years. Pediatrics, 128(5), 1–6.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-1753CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013). Children, adolescents, and the media. Pediatrics, 132(5), 958–961.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-2656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016). Media and young minds. Pediatrics, 138(5), 1–6.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353–359.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00366CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Anderson, D. R., & Hanson, K. G. (2010). From blooming, buzzing confusion to media literacy: The early development of television viewing. Developmental Review, 30(2), 239–255.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2010.03.004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Anderson, D. R., & Kirkorian, H. L. (2015). Media and cognitive development. In L. S. Liben, U. Müller, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (pp. 949–994). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.  https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118963418.childpsy222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Anderson, D. R., & Pempek, T. A. (2005). Television and very young children. American Behavioral Scientist, 48, 505–522.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764204271506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ballagas, R., Kaye, J. J., Ames, M., Go, J., & Raffle, H. (2009). Family communication: Phone conversations with children. Proceedings of the 8th international conference on interaction design and children, 321–324.  https://doi.org/10.1145/1551788.1551874
  10. Bara, F., Gentaz, E., & Colé, P. (2007). Haptics in learning to read with children from low socio-economic status families. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 25(4), 643–663.  https://doi.org/10.1348/026151007X186643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barnett, S. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2002). When and where do we apply what we learn? A taxonomy for far transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 128(4), 612–637.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0033-2909.128.4.612CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Barr, R. (2010). Transfer of learning between 2D and 3D sources during infancy: Informing theory and practice. Developmental Review, 30(2), 128–154.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2010.03.001CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Barr, R. (2013). Memory constraints on infant learning from picture books, television, and touchscreens. Child Development Perspectives, 7(4), 205–210.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Barr, R., & Hayne, H. (1999). Developmental changes in imitation from television during infancy. Child Development, 70(5), 1067–1081.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00079CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Bedford, R., Saez de Urabain, I. R., Cheung, C. H., Karmiloff-Smith, A., & Smith, T. J. (2016). Toddlers’ fine motor milestone achievement is associated with early touchscreen scrolling. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1108.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep46104CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Berkowitz, T., Schaeffer, M. W., Maloney, E. A., Peterson, L., Gregor, C., Levine, S. C., & Beilock, S. L. (2015). Math at home adds up to achievement in school. Science, 350(6257), 196–198.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aac7427CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Blackwell, C. K., Wartella, E., Lauricella, A. R., & Robb, M. (2015). Technology in the lives of educators and early childhood programs: Trends in access, use, and professional development from 2012 to 2014. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University.Google Scholar
  18. Bull, R., Espy, K. A., & Senn, T. E. (2004). A comparison of performance on the towers of London and Hanoi in young children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(4), 743–754.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00268.xCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Cain, N., & Gradisar, M. (2010). Electronic media use and sleep in school-aged children and adolescents: A review. Sleep Medicine, 11(8), 735–742.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2010.02.006CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Carter, B., Rees, P., Hale, L., Bhattacharjee, D., & Paradkar, M. S. (2016). Association between portable screen-based media device access or use and sleep outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(12), 1202–1208.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2341CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Chang, A. M., Aeschbach, D., Duffy, J. F., & Czeisler, C. A. (2015). Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(4), 1232–1237.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1418490112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cheung, C. H., Bedford, R., Saez de Urabain, I. R., Karmiloff-Smith, A., & Smith, T. J. (2017). Daily touchscreen use in infants and toddlers is associated with reduced sleep and delayed sleep onset. Scientific Reports, 7, 46104.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep46104CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Cristia, A., & Seidl, A. (2015). Parental reports on touch screen use in early childhood. PLoS One, 10(6), e0128338.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128338CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Eisen, S. & Lillard, A. S. (2016, October). As good as the real thing? A comparison of learning from apps versus hands-on materials. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development special topic meeting on Technology and Media in Children’s Development, Irvine, CA.Google Scholar
  25. Eisen, S., & Lillard, A. S. (2017). Young children’s thinking about touchscreens versus other media in the US. Journal of Children and Media, 11(2), 167–179.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2016.1254095CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hayne, H., Herbert, J., & Simcock, G. (2003). Imitation from television by 24-and 30-month-olds. Developmental Science, 6(3), 254–261.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7687.00281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J. M., Golinkoff, R. M., Gray, J. H., Robb, M. B., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3–34.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100615569721CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Honan, M. (2014). Are touchscreens melting your kid’s brain? Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2014/04/children-and-touch-screens/
  29. Huber, B., Tarasuik, J., Antoniou, M. N., Garrett, C., Bowe, S. J., Kaufman, J., & Team, T. S. B. (2015). Young children's transfer of learning from a touchscreen device. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 56–64.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kabali, H. K., Irigoyen, M. M., Nunez-Davis, R., Budacki, J. G., Mohanty, S. H., Leister, K. P., & Bonner, R. L. (2015). Exposure and use of mobile media devices by young children. Pediatrics, 136(6), 1044–1050.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2015-2151CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Kalenine, S., Pinet, L., & Gentaz, E. (2011). The visual and visuo-haptic exploration of geometrical shapes increases their recognition in preschoolers. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 35, 18–26.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025410367443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kuhl, P. K., Tsao, F. M., & Liu, H. M. (2003). Foreign-language experience in infancy: Effects of short-term exposure and social interaction on phonetic learning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(15), 9096–9101.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1532872100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kwok, K., Ghrear, S., Li, V., Haddock, T., Coleman, P., & Birch, S. A. (2016). Children can learn new facts equally well from interactive media versus face to face instruction. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1603.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01603CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Lauricella, A. R., Blackwell, C. K., & Wartella, E. (2017). The “new” technology environment: The role of content and context on learning and development from mobile media. In R. Barr & D. N. Linebarger (Eds.), Media exposure during infancy and early childhood: The effects of content and context on learning and development (pp. 1–23). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45102-2_1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lillard, A. S. (2017). Montessori: The science behind the genius (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Lillard, A. S., & Erisir, A. (2011). Old dogs learning new tricks: Neuroplasticity beyond the juvenile period. Developmental Review, 31(4), 207–239.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2011.07.008CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Lillard, A. S., & Peterson, J. (2011). The immediate impact of different types of television on young children’s executive function. Pediatrics, 128(4), 644–649.  https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2010-1919
  38. McClure, E., & Barr, R. (2017). Building family relationships from a distance: Supporting connections with babies and toddlers using video and video chat. In R. Barr & D. N. Linebarger (Eds.), Media exposure during infancy and early childhood: The effects of content and context on learning and development (pp. 227–258). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45102-2_15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McClure, E. R., Chentsova-Dutton, Y. E., Barr, R. F., Holochwost, S. J., & Parrott, W. G. (2015). “Facetime doesn’t count”: Video chat as an exception to media restrictions for infants and toddlers. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 6, 1–6.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcci.2016.02.002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moser, A., Zimmermann, L., Dickerson, K., Grenell, A., Barr, R., & Gerhardstein, P. (2015). They can interact, but can they learn? Toddlers’ transfer learning from touchscreens and television. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 137, 137–155.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2015.04.002CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Myers, L. J., LeWitt, R. B., Gallo, R. E., & Maselli, N. M. (2017). Baby FaceTime: Can toddlers learn from online video chat? Developmental Science, 20(4), e12430.  https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center. (2012). Position statement: Technology and young children. Washington, DC.: Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/content/technology-and-young-children
  43. Pogue, D. (2015). Are touchscreens ruining our children? Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-touch-screens-ruining-our-children/
  44. Rideout, V. J. (2013). Zero to eight: Children's media use in America 2013. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.Google Scholar
  45. Rideout, V. (2017). The common sense census: Media use by kids age zero to eight. San Francisco, CA: Common Sense Media.Google Scholar
  46. Roseberry, S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2014). Skype me! Socially contingent interactions help toddlers learn language. Child Development, 85(3), 956–970.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12166CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Roseberry, S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Parish-Morris, J., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2009). Live action: Can young children learn verbs from video? Child Development, 80(5), 1360–1375.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01338.xCrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Russo-Johnson, C., Troseth, G., Duncan, C., & Mesghina, A. (2017). All tapped out: Touchscreen interactivity and young children’s word learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 578.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00578CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Schmitt, K. L., & Anderson, D. R. (2002). Television and reality: Toddlers’ use of visual information from video to guide behavior. Media Psychology, 4(1), 51–76.  https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532785XMEP0401_03CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shuler, C. (2012). iLearn II: An analysis of the education category of Apple’s app store. New York, NY: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.Google Scholar
  51. Simcock, G., Garrity, K., & Barr, R. (2011). The effect of narrative cues on infants’ imitation from television and picture books. Child Development, 82(5), 1607–1619.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01636.xCrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  52. Sneddon, P. L. (2007). Sleep problems in young children with and without behavior problems. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Utah State University, Logan, UT.Google Scholar
  53. Strouse, G. A., & Troseth, G. L. (2014). Supporting toddlers’ transfer of word learning from video. Cognitive Development, 30, 47–64.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2014.01.002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Troseth, G. L., & DeLoache, J. S. (1998). The medium can obscure the message: Young children’s understanding of video. Child Development, 69(4), 950–965.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06153.x
  55. Troseth, G. L., Russo, C. E., & Strouse, G. A. (2016). What’s next for research on young children’s interactive media? Journal of Children and Media, 10(1), 54–62.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2015.1123166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Troseth, G. L., Saylor, M. M., & Archer, A. H. (2006). Young children’s use of video as a source of socially relevant information. Child Development, 77(3), 786–799.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00903.x
  57. Wartella, E., Blackwell, C. K., Lauricella, A. R., & Robb, M. (2013). Technology in the lives of teachers and classrooms: 2012 survey of teachers. Latrobe, PA: The Fred Rogers Center.Google Scholar
  58. Wartella, E. A., & Jennings, N. (2000). Children and computers: New technology—Old concerns. The Future of Children, 10(2), 31–43.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1602688CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Wartella, E., Richert, R. A., & Robb, M. B. (2010). Babies, television and videos: How did we get here? Developmental Review, 30(2), 116–127.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2010.03.008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zack, E., Barr, R., Gerhardstein, P., Dickerson, K., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2009). Infant imitation from television using novel touch screen technology. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27(1), 13–26.  https://doi.org/10.1348/026151008X334700CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Zack, E., Gerhardstein, P., Meltzoff, A. N., & Barr, R. (2013). 15-month-olds’ transfer of learning between touch screen and real-world displays: Language cues and cognitive loads. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 54(1), 20–25.  https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12001CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Zimmermann, L., Moser, A., Lee, H., Gerhardstein, P., & Barr, R. (2017). The ghost in the touchscreen: Social scaffolds promote learning by toddlers. Child Development, 88(6), 2013–2025.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12683CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Zosh, J. M., Lytle, S. R., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2017). Putting the education back in educational apps: How content and context interact to promote learning. In R. Barr & D. N. Linebarger (Eds.), Media exposure during infancy and early childhood: The effects of content and context on learning and development (pp. 259–282). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45102-2_17CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations