Technology and young children: how 4–7 year olds perceive their own use of computers

Susan McKenney, Joke Voogt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
270 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This study examined young children’s access, perceptions and use of technology within and outside of school settings. One hundred sixty seven children from varied ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds participated in the study. Regardless of gender, socio-economic status or ethnic group, most children had access to computers in and outside of schools. In both settings, pre-K through grade 2 children report that they primarily use computers to play games. Children’s attitudes toward computers are positive. Older children tend to use the computer more often, are better able to operate the computer and their attitudes towards computers are more positive. Boys’ attitudes towards computers are more positive than the attitudes of girls, but no gender differences were found for computer use nor ability level. While no significant differences were found between the attitudes of Dutch and immigrant children, the latter group indicated more frequent use. Also, children from a lower socio-economic neighborhood had more positive attitudes towards computers and used computers slightly more often than middle class children. The findings of this study inform the debate on the desirability of young children’s exposure to computers at home as well as in educational settings. Further, these findings may help educators and parents to both critically assess their current practices (e.g. the relative value of the most frequently used applications – games), and strive to integrate developmentally appropriate uses of technology at home and in classrooms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-664
JournalComputers in human behavior
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Ethnicity
  • Technology
  • Computer
  • Kindergarten
  • IR-70598
  • Gender
  • Elementary school

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