Cooperation and Young Children’s Use of Mobile Touch Screen Technology

Srisontisuk, Pinsuda (2022). Cooperation and Young Children’s Use of Mobile Touch Screen Technology. PhD thesis The Open University.



The rising presence of mobile touch screen technology (MTST) in the early childhood context presents opportunities as well as giving cause of concern. The unique features of MTST, such as its intuitive interface and portability, have led to an increase in its accessibility. However, there are many questions regarding its suitability for young children, specifically concerning its impact on their social development. This research aims to address the issue by investigating how cooperative behaviour can manifest through young children's use of MTST.

A scoping study (questionnaire) with parents (n=124) followed by semi-structured interviews with practitioners (n=9) were used to gather information on their attitudes towards young children and MTST. Although parents were cautiously optimistic about the potential benefits of MTST, they expressed several concerns, many agreeing that devices can take away from interacting with others. A thematic analysis of the practitioner interviews showed that they shared similar concerns and they noted the subdued and sedentary interactions with MTST.

The subsequent study investigated what forms of social and computer interactions occur when young children work cooperatively on MTST. It followed a design-based research method in which a learning activity was designed to promote cooperation while using MTST. Video data of children working in pairs (n=12) during the design and redesign of the activity was collected from two preschool settings. An analysis of the children's eye gaze, contact, and transfer of possession explored different cooperative elements during their interactions. Although there was variability across the different pairs, this research was able to provide evidence that MTST can be used in a cooperative manner amongst young children. The findings showed that the children were focused on the activity and shared long moments of joint attention. Additionally, specific features of the MTST correlated with an increase in specific types of cooperative behaviour.

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