Tablet Computers Make Preschool Children’s Play Less Creative, Study Finds

Tablet Computers Make Preschool Children's Play Less Creative, Study Finds

Preschoolers' games with tablets are less imaginative and imaginative than their games with physical toys. That's according to a new study from Uppsala University, and the difference is huge. The results contradict claims that new technologies are making children more creative.

"Although the study is quite small, it does suggest that we may need to be careful when using touchscreens with preschoolers," says Robin Samuelsson of the University of Scandinavia's Institute of Scandinavian Languages. 'Uppsala.

A collaboration between researchers from Uppsala University and the Institute of Education at University College London in England compared nearly 100 play activities in two groups of preschoolers, 2-year-olds and children 4 to 5 years old. 30 children from two kindergartens participated in the study during preschool free play, that is, playing without much teacher involvement. Free play takes up about 57% of a preschooler's time.

Past studies have often evaluated entirely new applications or technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in preschoolers. However, in this study, the researchers wanted to examine how children play common popular apps during free play.

The researchers conducted a multi-method study in which they recorded videos of children playing in a preschool. They looked at children's play habits and what children did when playing with tablets versus physical toys such as blocks and clothes. When playing on a tablet, the focus is on what kids are doing on screen and with their peers. Children's play was compared following a study that adjusted the established classification framework for children's play.

The study found that tablet games were more exploratory but contained fewer simulation and fantasy elements. The nature of the game on a tablet is also different from the games usually played by children of this age.

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The kindergarten curriculum, known in Sweden as Lpfö 2018, states in its guidelines for parenting, development and learning that preschool educators are responsible for ensuring that all children are able to use digital devices in a way that encourages learning, development and learning. As a result, tablets have made a strong inroad into preschools across the country and into the daily lives of many children. Educators and researchers have experienced the possibilities offered by new technologies.

“Our results are clear, but also surprising given the curriculum. We hope that our results will be meaningful and useful for preschool staff as well as parents and others involved in the daily lives of children and technology. While there are potential learning mechanisms for exploration play with tablets, there is a need to understand how new technologies affect children,” Samuelsson said.

This new study, published in the journal Learning, Media and Technology , builds on previous research that examined patterns of interaction between teachers and children when using tablets. The study compared reading books to using a tablet and showed that children spoke less in situations where tablets were enabled. Previous research has also revealed new non-verbal methods that children use to communicate through touch screens.

More information: Robin Samuelsson et al., How common iPad apps shape young children's play: A study of children age 2 and 4–5, Learning, Media, and Technology (2022). DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2022.2141252

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