A toddler and mum using an iPad

University researchers are seeking participants to complete an online survey which will assist with 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.

Led by Manchester Metropolitan University, Toddlers, Tech and Talk is a two-year project involving researchers from Swansea University, Lancaster University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Strathclyde.

Data shows that the digital and online activity of children aged 3-15 grows each year, but comparatively little is known about how the very youngest use technology.

As part of the Toddlers, Tech and Talk project, the research team is looking for parents and legal guardians of children aged 0-3 years who live in the UK to complete an anonymous online survey, which takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. In order to reach a broad range of communities that reflect the country’s cultural and linguistic diversity, the survey is offered in 12 different languages, including Welsh.

Findings from the Toddlers, Tech and Talk project will enable families and policymakers to better understand how children aged 0-3 develop early talk and literacy as they use digital media, and how families can support their learning and wellbeing. Results will also indicate how social divides across and within the UK’s four nations shape children’s digital experiences.

Resources for parents and teachers will be produced, as will policy briefings and written evidence for national, devolved and local governments on very young children’s learning, safety and wellbeing in digitally connected homes.

Professor Janet Goodall of Swansea University’s Department of Education and Childhood Studies said: “From birth, almost every child in the UK has a digital footprint, and digital media begin to influence how they live and learn. This project will build a robust body of evidence about the language and literacy learning of children aged three and under and we will use new ways to research the home and work sensitively with children and families in diverse communities.

“We know that parents and carers want the best for their children, but in this fast-changing world, it can be very difficult to know what the ‘best’ is or can be. This project will help us understand how families with young children are using and interacting with digital technology, and give us a much better understanding of the place of technology in families’ lives.”

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Toddlers, Tech and Talk project will inform practical and conceptual understanding of the contemporary home learning environment, developing resources, and identifying areas for future research.

Complete the online survey.

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