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Pre-school computers boost ABC knowledge

A study by the ARC Centre for Cognition and its Disorders at Macquarie University and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has found that pre-school kids who used the computer regularly improved their knowledge of letters in the alphabet.

The study examined 1500 four-year old children and studied the connection between these children’s computer use and their knowledge of letters.

Published in Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, the project computed computer use and examined kids on their speech development, oral language and phonological skill as well as on their non-verbal intelligence. It was discovered that half of the kids in the study who had positive letter knowledge results have regularly use computers.

The study learned that over 5 per cent of the children knew all 26 letters, while 21 per cent could not identify any of the letters. Upon evaluation of the children’s data, it was found that 61 per cent of those who had no letter knowledge have not yet tried using a computer.

Professor Anne Castles, who headed the research, said that most studies have focused on the correlation between television use, but few studies have been found connecting children’s computer use to their early literary capabilities. She said that they chose to conduct the study as children’s usage and accessibility to tablets and computers have considerably increased in the last two decades.

“Our study showed greater computer use in preschool children appears to have a positive association with emerging literacy development,” Castles said.

The study found that computer use had helped in foreseeing letter knowledge, and that it was an aspect which is separate from common factors that have been proven to predict letter knowledge in young kids, such as home literacy involvements, socio economic status and language understanding.


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