Advanced search
Add to list

Tethered toddler, distracted toddler? Linking preschoolers’ attention-deficiency to their task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using tablets

(2016)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Because of their intuitive user interface, tablets appear to be ‘made for little fingers’ (Hernandez, 2014). Concerns have been voiced, however, that early exposure to digital media such as tablets may impact negatively on children’s cognitive development (Carr, 2010). Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) (Sweller, 2003) explains why digital media exposure may have negative consequences. The working memory is only able to process a limited number of novel interacting elements in order to successfully acquire new knowledge (Paas, Renkl & Sweller, 2003). The use of ICTs, which are characterized by hyperlinked, interactive and visually enriched content, may lead to an overloaded working memory. First, digital technologies enable users to engage in (rewarding) task switching behavior, as a result the working memory may need to process new information at such a rapid pace that effective processing is hampered (Jacobson, 2010; Rosen, Cheever & Carrier, 2012). Second, the cognitively demanding way in which digital technologies such as tablets present information to the user may force them to process navigational information rather than the primary subject matter (‘extraneous problem-solving’, EPS) (Newell, 2015). In the context of children’s cognitive development, there is concern that this task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior may lead to negative outcomes such as the acquisition of poorer information-processing skills (Carr, 2010). What seems to be ignored in this debate, however, is that not all children are alike (cf. Chaudron, 2015). Children may carry certain predispositions explaining both their media usage patterns and information-processing skills. One such predisposition may be children’s attention deficiency, which is characterized by easy distractibility and a lack of focus (Wolraich, 2008). Children with impaired attention are known to have greater learning difficulties (Cantwell & Baker, 1991). These children’s general lack of attentiveness when performing tasks, may also cause them to engage more in task switching behavior and extraneous problem-solving. The aim of the current study is to investigate this assumption, by examining whether parental perceptions of toddlers’ attention deficiency predict parental perceptions of toddlers’ task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using the tablet. An online survey was administered to parents of children aged 1 ‒ 5 (N = 297), to explore parental perceptions of their child’s inattention and how they interact with a tablet computer. Inattention was assessed using the CBCL/1½-5 (2000) and BASC-2 PRS (2009) scales (3-point Likert scale, M = 1.65, SD = .36). Ten items (5-point Likert scale) were constructed to capture the behavior of the toddler while using a tablet. These items were subjected to a factor analysis, which revealed two factors: (1) extraneous problem-solving (EPS; e.g. ‘When ending a usage session, my child has difficulty remembering wat s/he has been doing on the tablet’, M = 2.12, SD = .71) and (2) task switching (e.g. ‘My child rarely watches an entire movie on the tablet, but rather navigates from one movie to the next’, M = 2.47, SD = .91). Two Multiple Regression Analyses with gender, age, tablet screen time/week and attention-deficit as predictors of (a) EPS and (b) task switching, showed that the entire model predicted 14.6% of the variance in task switching (F(4, 292) = 12.495, p = .000) and 13.8% in EPS (F(4,282) = 11.696, p = .000). Gender and tablet screen time did not significantly contribute to the models, while age only predicts a substantial part of EPS. Attention-deficit appeared the most important predictor of both dependent variables. Although only a minority of the parents perceived their child to engage in task switching and EPS extensively, we found that toddlers with attention-deficit problems are more likely to make use of tablets in a cognitively demanding way.
Keywords
survey, Cognitive development, task switching, extraneous problem-solving, attention-deficit, tablet, toddlers, cognitive load theory

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Van Hove, Stephanie. “Tethered Toddler, Distracted Toddler? Linking Preschoolers’ Attention-deficiency to Their Task Switching and Extraneous Problem-solving Behavior When Using Tablets.” 2016. Print.
APA
Van Hove, S. (2016). Tethered toddler, distracted toddler? Linking preschoolers’ attention-deficiency to their task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using tablets. Presented at the 66th International Communication Association: Annual Conference.
Chicago author-date
Van Hove, Stephanie. 2016. “Tethered Toddler, Distracted Toddler? Linking Preschoolers’ Attention-deficiency to Their Task Switching and Extraneous Problem-solving Behavior When Using Tablets.” In .
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Hove, Stephanie. 2016. “Tethered Toddler, Distracted Toddler? Linking Preschoolers’ Attention-deficiency to Their Task Switching and Extraneous Problem-solving Behavior When Using Tablets.” In .
Vancouver
1.
Van Hove S. Tethered toddler, distracted toddler? Linking preschoolers’ attention-deficiency to their task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using tablets. 2016.
IEEE
[1]
S. Van Hove, “Tethered toddler, distracted toddler? Linking preschoolers’ attention-deficiency to their task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using tablets,” presented at the 66th International Communication Association: Annual Conference, Fukuoka, Japan, 2016.
@inproceedings{7048616,
  abstract     = {Because of their intuitive user interface, tablets appear to be ‘made for little fingers’ (Hernandez, 2014). Concerns have been voiced, however, that early exposure to digital media such as tablets may impact negatively on children’s cognitive development (Carr, 2010). 

Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) (Sweller, 2003) explains why digital media exposure may have negative consequences. The working memory is only able to process a limited number of novel interacting elements in order to successfully acquire new knowledge (Paas, Renkl & Sweller, 2003). The use of ICTs, which are characterized by hyperlinked, interactive and visually enriched content, may lead to an overloaded working memory. First, digital technologies enable users to engage in (rewarding) task switching behavior, as a result the working memory may need to process new information at such a rapid pace that effective processing is hampered (Jacobson, 2010; Rosen, Cheever & Carrier, 2012). Second, the cognitively demanding way in which digital technologies such as tablets present information to the user may force them to process navigational information rather than the primary subject matter (‘extraneous problem-solving’, EPS) (Newell, 2015). 

In the context of children’s cognitive development, there is concern that this task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior may lead to negative outcomes such as the acquisition of poorer information-processing skills (Carr, 2010). What seems to be ignored in this debate, however, is that not all children are alike (cf. Chaudron, 2015). Children may carry certain predispositions explaining both their media usage patterns and information-processing skills. One such predisposition may be children’s attention deficiency, which is characterized by easy distractibility and a lack of focus (Wolraich, 2008). Children with impaired attention are known to have greater learning difficulties (Cantwell & Baker, 1991). These children’s general lack of attentiveness when performing tasks, may also cause them to engage more in task switching behavior and extraneous problem-solving. The aim of the current study is to investigate this assumption, by examining whether parental perceptions of toddlers’ attention deficiency predict parental perceptions of toddlers’ task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using the tablet. 

An online survey was administered to parents of children aged 1 ‒ 5 (N = 297), to explore parental perceptions of their child’s inattention and how they interact with a tablet computer. Inattention was assessed using the CBCL/1½-5 (2000) and BASC-2 PRS (2009) scales (3-point Likert scale, M = 1.65, SD = .36). Ten items (5-point Likert scale) were constructed to capture the behavior of the toddler while using a tablet. These items were subjected to a factor analysis, which revealed two factors: (1) extraneous problem-solving (EPS; e.g. ‘When ending a usage session, my child has difficulty remembering wat s/he has been doing on the tablet’, M = 2.12, SD = .71) and (2) task switching (e.g. ‘My child rarely watches an entire movie on the tablet, but rather navigates from one movie to the next’, M = 2.47, SD = .91).   
Two Multiple Regression Analyses with gender, age, tablet screen time/week and attention-deficit as predictors of (a) EPS and (b) task switching, showed that the entire model predicted 14.6% of the variance in task switching (F(4, 292) = 12.495, p = .000) and 13.8% in EPS (F(4,282) = 11.696, p = .000). Gender and tablet screen time did not significantly contribute to the models, while age only predicts a substantial part of EPS. Attention-deficit appeared the most important predictor of both dependent variables. 

Although only a minority of the parents perceived their child to engage in task switching and EPS extensively, we found that toddlers with attention-deficit problems are more likely to make use of tablets in a cognitively demanding way.},
  author       = {Van Hove, Stephanie},
  keywords     = {survey,Cognitive development,task switching,extraneous problem-solving,attention-deficit,tablet,toddlers,cognitive load theory},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Fukuoka, Japan},
  title        = {Tethered toddler, distracted toddler? Linking preschoolers’ attention-deficiency to their task switching and extraneous problem-solving behavior when using tablets},
  year         = {2016},
}