Young Children and Technology

At CCT, we spend a lot of time thinking about technology and how we can help teachers and parents figure out ways to use it to support young children's learning. One of the things we often stress in our work is that technology can never replace human interaction or good teaching. Children, especially young children, need caring and knowledgable adults to help them navigate and learn about the world, and this includes the world of technology. Much of our work emphasizes the role that adults play in mediating children’s use of computer games or videos. This includes doing things like helping children play games in pairs so that they can talk about what they are doing and negotiate gameplay (rather than playing in isolation), or encouraging teachers and parents to pause videos to ask children questions about what is going on or what might happen next. We try to reflect this approach to technology in our research, and also in the guidance we provide to educators.

Over the years, we've collaborated with many partners, federal agencies, and private philanthropies who are committed to young children's healthy development, including PBS, Sesame Workshop, WGBH, Apple, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. By joining together, we've built an extensive body of work in the area of early learning, whether literacy, math, or science. Some of our more recent research projects include the following:

Ready To Learn—Since 2006, we have worked with SRI International to conduct research and evaluation studies to measure children's learning outcomes under the Ready To Learn Initiative. This initiative, supported by the U.S. Congress, has allowd the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS to develop media-rich literacy and math learning resources for young children, with the goal of improving school readiness among preschoolers in high-need communities. Click here to go to our Ready To Learn website, which features a  library of study reports, materials, videos, and links from the past decade of research.

Next Generation Preschool Math—This National Science Foundation-funded collaboration among researchers, media developers, and teachers aims to develop preschool classroom activities and innovative tablet-based games to help preschool children learn sophisticated mathematics concepts that are crucial to early school success. This project addresses a critical need to develop quality early childhoom mathematics curriculum, particularly for low-income students. The Next Generation Preschool Math project is based on research that shows that (i) early mathematics learning is one of the most important predictors of later school success broadly across the curriculum; (ii) very young children and capable of learning sophisticated mathematics; (iii) technology can be used to help young children learn sophisticated mathematics; and (iv) most presechool children are exposed to only simplistic mathematics, such as counting and simple shape recognition.  For more information on a math curriculum based on the Next Generation Preschool Math research, see  "Early Math with Gracie & Friends™".

Next Generation Preschool Science—This research and development project, funding by a National Science Foundation DRK-12 grant, is working to develop, iteratively refine, and evaluatio an innovative program for disadavantaged preschoolers to promote their learning of key science practices and concepts.