Preschool Children's Use of Tablet at Home and Parents' Views

Preschool Children's Use of Tablet at Home and Parents' Views

Kleopatra Nikolopoulou (University of Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1486-3.ch011
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


This chapter investigated young children's use of tablets at home and parents' views on tablet benefits and their concerns. A questionnaire was completed by the parents of 100 children aged 4-6. Young children engage in a range of activities such as playing games (76%), watching cartoons (75%), listening to music (65%), watching videos (60%), and using educational apps (54%). Fewer children look at pictures/photos/books or take pictures, while visiting websites and using email are never carried out by most of the children. Gender and age had an occasional isolated impact on children's tablet activities. 4-5 year olds tend to do tablet activities with an adult, while 5.5-6.5 year olds with siblings or alone. Most parents “agree and strongly agree” that tablets “teach basic technology skills” (85%), “teach foreign languages”, and “can make learning fun”. The parents' main concerns included dependence, reduction of communication, and inappropriate content. Implications regarding links between home and kindergarten are discussed.
Chapter Preview


Digital technologies are increasingly evident in children’s play worlds (Arnott et al., 2018) and home experiences (Hadlington et al., 2019), with the home environment to be often the first context where children access and experience these technologies (Kervin et al., 2018). Mobile digital touch screen devices (such as tablets, tablet devices of the type of iPad and smartphones) are, with increasing tendency, very popular among young children compared to the desktop or laptop computer and this popularity is attributed to the following features/functions (Kucirkova, 2014): portability, light weight, intuitive interface of the touch screen, no need for separate input devices (such as the keyboard or mouse), flexible design for easy installation (and running of applications), manageability for even very young children and autonomy. Software features including multiple representations of information, such as pictures, video and animation, varying levels of task difficulty, learner control, task feedback and repetition, serve to create an individualized learning environment, placing the children in active control of their learning (Outhwaite et al., 2017). Tablets appear to be the most preferred/popular portable device (used daily) for children under 7 years of age (Ebbeck et al., 2016), and also for children aged 2-9 years; due to portability, ease of use and convenience (Zrim, 2015). As many preschool children have not adequately developed their fine motor skills required to handle peripheral devices of conventional computers, tablets are an attractive means of carrying out digital educational activities (Papadakis & Kalogiannakis, 2017), since they only require the use of the finger.

The popularity of tablets in the homes of young children is rapidly increasing (Marsh et al., 2018) and in many parts of the world touch-screen tablet technologies have become part of a shared activity between adults and young children in the home environment (Kirkonian & Pempek, 2013). Mobile applications present a significant opportunity for out-of-school, informal learning when designed in educationally appropriate ways (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015). Neumann (2018) found that parents played a key role in supporting young children’s interactions with tablets, while various research studies examined the impact of touch screen tablets on young children’s learning (e.g., Neumann & Neumann, 2014, Herodotou, 2017). In general, there has been a positive impact on motivation (MacCallum & Bell, 2019), literacy skills (Neumann, 2014; Gray et al., 2017; Clarke & Abbott, 2016), mathematical skills (Gray et al., 2017; Papadakis et al., 2018a; Outhwaite et al., 2017), science, problem-solving, and self-efficacy (Herodotou, 2017). There is an agreement that a major role for parents (and teachers) is to curate and mediate the content children receive via technology and to personalize their reading experiences (Kucirkova & Flewitt, 2018). The views of parents on the benefits and disadvantages of tablets are important, because parents’ perspectives, engagement and support influence children’s learning experiences at home. Although research on tablets with preschool children has emerged, in Greece there is little empirical evidence (e.g., Papadakis et al., 2018a; 2018b; Kalogiannakis & Papadakis, 2019; Kalogiannakis et al., 2018), at kindergarten or at home environments.

The purpose of this chapter is to examine preschool children’s use of tablet at home and their parents’ views on educational benefits and concerns of using tablets. For the purpose of this chapter, the terms “early childhood”, “preschool” and “kindergarten” are used as synonymous, indicating the formal educational settings that attend, in most countries, children aged between 3 and 6 years old. The specific research questions of this chapter are:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Learning: The learning mode that employs mobile technology/devices to facilitate or support learning; can be defined as facilitating and enhancing the learning process via mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Tablet: Synonym for “touch-screen tablet” or “mobile touch-screen tablet device”. For example, iPads, Blackberry Playbook, Android tablets etc.

ICT (Information and Communication Technologies): synonym to the terms “computers” and “digital technology”. Historically the focus has tended to be on computers, but this has extended to include interactive whiteboards and tablets; apart from computer software, a number of products that incorporate some aspects of ICT are available to young children (such as electronic musical keyboards, programmable interactive toys and digital cameras), while lately mobile technologies and, in particular, the tablets are very popular among young children.

Mobile Applications: synonym for “mobile apps” or “apps”.

Mobile/Portable Touch Screen Devices: Tablets, tablet devices of the type of iPad and smartphones.

Mobile Phones: synonym to smartphones; lately, most are equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, near field communication capabilities, as well as Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities.

Mobile Devices/Technologies: tablets, smartphones, e-readers, MP3 players etc.; these technologies continue to expand and evolve with tablets, Chromebooks, and even laptops viewed as “mobile” devices.

Digital Technologies: synonym for “Information and Communication Technologies” (ICT); include desktop computers, as well as mobile technologies (tablets, etc.).

Early Childhood (settings): synonym to “preschool” and “kindergarten” settings; indicating the formal educational settings that attend, in most countries, children aged between 3 and 6 years old.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: