Exploring the Association Between Leisure Time Digital Immersion, Attention and Reasoning Ability in Pre-Teens

Exploring the Association Between Leisure Time Digital Immersion, Attention and Reasoning Ability in Pre-Teens

Mick Grimley (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Mary Allan (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) and Cathy Solomon (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0032-4.ch006
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Some researchers claim that digital natives are endowed with greater cognitive abilities than digital immigrants, due to the interactive nature of digital technologies. This study investigates relationships between different types of digital activity, reasoning ability and attention in a pre-teen population. Two hundred twenty-four participants (139 males, 85 females) aged 10-12 years completed a questionnaire measuring leisure time digital immersion. Factor analysis reveals 5 distinct types of users. Ninety-two participants completed tests of reasoning and attention to ascertain the relationship between type of digital user and cognitive ability. Results indicate that users who engaged in simple low level writing and drawing tasks with technology were inclined to have low literacy levels and poor concentration levels. In addition, users who engaged in computer mediated communication and content creation showed inconsistent and unstable attentional ability.
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In developed countries life in the 21st century has become a digital experience for the majority of people. It has now become extremely difficult to avoid digital technologies. Digital media is pervasive in both work and home environments. At work, if the computer network crashes you are likely to suspend your work until it is repaired. At home, if a crisis looms or there is a need to gather information Google™ search is likely to be the answer. Game consoles or mp3 players fulfill the leisure needs of millions of people every day. In a recent survey of technology use responses indicated that 99% of teenage boys and 94% of teenage girls played computer games in their leisure time (Lenhart et al., 2008) and 74% of adults have a propensity to go online (Jones & Fox, 2009). The fact that technology is pervasive in society has raised a number of questions amongst researchers as to how technology impacts individuals and whether those immersed in technology differ in terms of their cognitive aptitude compared to those who are not.

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