ERG SES D 03, ICT and Education
The integration of media and technology into classrooms has been both a priority and a challenge. While there appear to be a number of negative effects resulting from exposure to media and technology, such as selfishness and cyberbullying, growing evidence suggests that there are a number of positive outcomes. Some positive outcomes include deeper learning, increased motivation, more independent work, and increased confidence and curiosity. One of the main theories being explored in early childhood education is ‘Theory of Mind’, which is an individual’s ability to understand others’ cognitive states, including their desires, beliefs and knowledge. Theory of mind is a child’s ability to distinguish the brain from the mind and is posited to develop at age 4. An additional perspective suggests that altruism and prosocial behaviours emerge during the preschool years (ages 2-5). Prosocial behaviours include helping, comforting, cooperating, and sharing and are defined as acts intended to benefit others, for reciprocal or non-reciprocal purposes. Preschool aged children, in developed countries, are often exposed to media and technology by their parents, teachers, or peers in preschools, daycares, and kindergarten classrooms. This exposure occurs during the development of prosocial behaviours and theory of mind. Sharing is a specific prosocial behaviour and can be defined as offering, showing, allowing use of an object or turn-taking. Sharing behaviours are developed at young ages (2-5) and some researchers found that these children readily share physical objects, such as toys or stickers, and can self-initiate sharing with computers. However, it is unclear how preschool children’s prosocial sharing behaviours are reinforced or reduced through the use of media and technology. My study will contribute to a larger longitudinal project on “Researching cognition and technology: How we learn across the lifespan”. I will focus on young children’s (ages 4 and 5) interaction with media and technology, in particular with touchpads (i.e., iPads). This interaction will include the observations of prosocial sharing behaviours while using touchpads, and more specifically iPads. My research questions are:
- What are the effects of iPads (e.g., touchpads) on the development of prosocial behaviours, specifically sharing, of preschool children?
- What are the dynamics of interplay between prosocial sharing behaviours and iPads amongst preschool children?
- How do iPads shape children’s’ theory of mind?
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