This study explores the question of whether touchscreen devices are a positive tool for the education of children aged 0-11 years old. To fully understand the educational benefits and drawbacks of touchscreen education, this study examines touchscreen use in the classroom and at home, through observations of the researcher and opinions of children.
An extensive look into the literature on how and why children interact with touchscreen technology as well as their current place in classrooms and what forms of education they can provide at home has been completed. In addition to this, two case studies were conducted: the first contains an account of what the researcher observed in one year 4 (aged 8-9) class over a six-month period and the other is a report of observations at a Steiner-Waldorf school, a type of school which prohibits technology use before secondary school. Other research includes two focus groups of seven children in total.
This study found that the uses for touchscreens in the classrooms are many, and most often positive, providing opportunities for self-directed learning and shaking up the classroom environment. However, the first case study and the focus groups indicated that although advantageous in the classroom, touchscreens can be distracting to some children. Younger children and toddlers may also have more trouble learning from touchscreens due to the transfer deficit (toddlers struggle to transfer learning from a screen to real life) and learning at home using a touchscreen may not be a priority, as the children in the focus groups said their favourite things to use their touch screens for were “games” and “YouTube”.
To conclude, the study finds touchscreen devices are advantageous to children’s learning, given the existence of educational apps and the ability to research anything imaginable, as long as children are given some boundaries. However, research completed in a Steiner-Waldorf school, proves that children do not need touchscreen devices to have an enriched education.
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