Young Children, Touchscreens and Literacy Practices

Most research recently developed in Europe has shown that younger children (0-to-8-year-olds) grow up in media-rich homes and (pre)school contexts. Among this age group, access to digital media mainly happens through touchscreen devices, such as tablets and smartphones, which can be used in a more intuitive way than a PC, before the child learns to read and write, thus allowing highly individualized internet access. Since the first years of life, drivers for internet use are favourite kids’ TV content and games. By using touchscreens, young children engage in emergent literacy practices (that is, knowledge of reading and writing skills), develop digital skills, and are socialised to online communication and entertainment. Both the family (parents and siblings) and the (pre)school context (teachers and peers) can scaffold younger children’s emergent literacy and digital literacy. As a consequence of being embedded into everyday life activities, digital literacy is more and more a matter of informal, instead of formal, learning. On the other side, however, digital media use at a very young age poses a number of concerns, from the commodification of childhood, to the exposure to inappropriate content.

We invite theoretical, methodological, and/or empirical/practitioner contributions that address the following topics:

  • the role of parents, siblings, peers and teachers in scaffolding children’s digital skills and emergent literacy;
  • the market pressures;
  • the quality and safety of the most popular apps;
  • the gender stereotypes promoted by apps and digital content for younger children;
  • the specific digital skills and competences that children gain through the use of touchscreen devices
  • and the effects of children’s engagement with touchscreen devices on the traditional literacy and numeracy.

The issue aims to investigate all the above mentioned topics, focusing on the digital literacy of young children (0-to-8-year-olds) in the everyday life contexts -home and (pre)school- which are increasingly saturated with touchscreen mobile devices. Different theoretical and methodological approaches are welcome, as well as examples of best practices, policy implications and recommendations.

Time scheduling

  • 300-words abstract  by March 31, 2016. Please send abstracts to both piermarco.aroldi@unicatt.it and giovanna.mascheroni@unicatt.it
  • Invitation by the editors to write the paper by the beginning April 2016;
  • Full paper by June 15, 2016;
  • Review and feedback for final version by July 30, 2016;
  • Final version of the paper by September 30, 2016;
  • Launch of the Special issue in November, 2016.

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