Looking beyond swiping and tapping: Review of design and methodologies for researching young children’s use of digital technologies

Special issue: Young Children’s Use of Digital Media and Parental Mediation

We conducted a systematic, in-depth literature review to examine the research around digital technology and media technologies for young children. We were particularly interested in understanding the range of research designs and specifics about elements of the method employed for researching digital technologies with young children (i.e., birth to 5 years). We focused precisely on this age group because it overlaps with the early childhood education period, and recent policy statements that focus on technology usage in young children and offer varying recommendations for children whose chronological age falls in the first five years of life. We completed a detailed analysis of 60 studies published 2011 to 2015; our synthesis focused on describing the research designs, and several specifics of the research method in each primary source: child demographics, the materials used in the research tasks, and the social and cognitive nature of tasks that children engaged in throughout each empirical study. Our findings provide insight for a framework that captures the complex interplay between child development, learning, lived experiences, and social contexts that surround the use of digital technologies.

Children; design; digital technology; research methodology; interactive media

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