Toddlers, Tech and Talk will explore how babies and young children interact with others
The Sector > Research > Toddlers, Tech and Talk will explore how babies and young children interact with others

Toddlers, Tech and Talk will explore how babies and young children interact with others

by Freya Lucas

October 07, 2022

Manchester Metropolitan University will lead a study to explore how infants and toddlers learn to communicate using TV streaming, digital books and family Zoom calls in their everyday home lives.


Toddlers, Tech and Talk is the most in-depth study to date into how the daily exposure of babies and very young children to digital technologies influences how they speak and interact with others.


The study will involve a survey of more than 1000 parents and carers about digital media use at home, 60 interviews with parents, education and care professionals and in-depth case studies in the homes of 40 families in diverse social and linguistic communities from across the UK.


While the COVID-19 pandemic increased families’ reliance on these communication methodologies to manage everyday life, keep in-touch with loved ones and educate and entertain their young children, many parents and carers are unaware of how this affects them.


Digital and online activity of children aged between 3 and 15 years grows year on year, but little is known about how children younger than three use technology.


The researchers hope that the UK wide project will enable families and policymakers to better understand how children from birth to three years of age develop early talk and literacy skills as they use digital media, and how families can support their learning and wellbeing. 


Researchers will also investigate how social divides across and within the UK’s four nations shape children’s digital experiences.


Professor Rosie Flewitt is leading the research, and said most children are born into home with embedded digital technology, which influences their early language development and literacy encounters. 


As such, there is a pressing need to find out ‘much more’ about how very young children interact with, around and through digital media.


“Children’s activity online and use of digital technologies tend to provoke public and media debates that focus on potential harm to children’s safety and security rather than on opportunities for learning,” she said. 


Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the two-year project also involves researchers from Lancaster University, Swansea University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Strathclyde.


At the conclusion of the research, resources for parents and teachers will be produced, along with policy briefings and written evidence for national, devolved and local governments on very young children’s learning, safety and wellbeing in digitally connected homes.


For more information on the research and the research team, please follow this link

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