Early Learning with Digital Media: A Naturalistic, Ethnographic Investigation of Children's Engagement with and Learning from Television and Digital Technology in Early Childhood
Dugan, Therese E.
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Digital media is a broad concept that includes everything from movies to video games to websites. These media are cultural norms for young people, becoming part of their identity as they use and create content. In this dissertation I discuss the observed diversity of interactions that children from infancy through kindergarten have with digital media. Specifically, in this dissertation I investigate what and how children learn from digital media and under what social conditions children actively viewed television shows, DVDs, movies, and YouTube videos. I address the following research questions: How do television shows encourage active viewing behaviors; how do children respond to those forms of encouragement; how do children learn from digital media through their interactions with the media and themselves, other people, and objects in order to make their viewing experiences social; and how do children's experiences with digital media lead them to extend that learning from digital media to other contexts of their everyday lives? I employed a longitudinal, naturalistic, qualitative, and ethnographic approach to my dissertation research. For one year, I followed 16 children (8 boys and 8 girls, ages 12 months to 6 years of age) and their actions and interactions with and around digital media. I video-recorded the children in their homes, allowing me to investigate what young children are doing and learning through their interactions, and whether their viewing and interactions affect or manifest in other aspects of their everyday lives. I created split-screen images consisting of in-show images and in-room activities; these data were analyzed and supported with parent diaries and numerous interviews with parents and children. Findings include a novel data visualization method for understanding how "interactive" television shows prompt children to interact, and analyses of case studies of children's joint media engagements as well as their diachronic learning with and from the media they watched. The collective results of my analyses reflect the need for a more nuanced perspective on children's consumption of digital media, as the children in this study actively applied and demonstrated the knowledge they obtained from digital media to other contexts of their everyday lives.
- Education - Seattle