• Question: What is cell phone/tablet use in early childhood doing to the rate of literacy acquisition?

    Asked by gertzerl17 to Jo, Jessie on 8 Jan 2018.
    • Photo: Jessie Ricketts

      Jessie Ricketts answered on 8 Jan 2018:


      An interesting question. There is really very little research on this and it is difficult research to do as technology changes so fast. For instance, I know of research that shows that use of ‘textspeak’ is associated with better spelling. This research doesn’t speak to the impact of texting on spelling, instead showing a correlation. Also it is now largely redundant as textspeak came and went quickly with reduced cost of texts. We have a PhD student starting later this year who will be looking at apps and literacy learning so watch this space!

    • Photo: Jo Taylor

      Jo Taylor answered on 9 Jan 2018:


      As Jessie says, there isn’t really research directly looking at this question. However, we do know that the home literacy environment, i.e the literacy-related interactions, resources, and attitudes that children experience at home, as well as the home spoken language environment, predict children’s later reading skills. Since most children don’t just discover the sounds that letters make but must be explicitly taught, just looking at words either in books or on tablets/phones won’t be the most effective way to boost literacy acquisition. Instead what’s important is sharing print experiences with a caregiver or other more experienced reader, both through story reading (either in books or on tablets!) and direct explanations about letters and sounds. These ideas are discussed in these articles:
      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10888438.2016.1213266
      https://theconversation.com/talking-to-your-babies-could-help-them-do-better-at-school-27298
      https://theconversation.com/how-to-encourage-literacy-in-young-children-and-beyond-80459
      Hopefully there will be more research in the future looking at whether its better to share reading experiences using books vs tablets.

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