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  • Research set to determine whether technology like iPads might be beneficial for children’s development
  • Parents invited to participate in study now and after six months

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A new research project, aimed at discovering the influence technology has on children’s learning, social interactions and play, from birth to 47 months, is being launched today.

Dr Elena Hoicka, and PhD students Stephanie Powell and Burcu Soy, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology, are looking to discover whether technology, such as tablets, is good for children’s development, bad, or a bit of both.

Parents across the world are invited to participate in the study by completing a survey at Baby Loves Science and repeating the survey six months later.

The survey asks questions about how long children use different types of technology – such as a tablet or a television – the previous day.

It also asks questions about how children prefer to learn, what children understand about other people, and whether and how children engage in pretend play. It only takes around 20-30 minutes to register and complete the survey.

Parents of children with low activities levels, such as newborns, are also invited to participate, as the researchers are interested in how technology impacts children right from the beginning. 

At the end of the survey, parents will receive a summary of their child’s learning style, social understanding, and play.

Importantly, parents will be invited to repeat the survey six months later, which allows researchers to determine whether technology has an impact or not.

For every parent who completes the survey twice, six months apart, £2 will be donated to UNICEF.

Dr Hoicka said: “Until recently, the American Association for Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended zero screen time until 2 years. However with the help of new research the AAP has changed some of its recommendations.

“We now know that children can learn words through Skype, and that television can be beneficial with children over 18 months, as long as their parents watch with them.”

 She added: “With technology changing and becoming more interactive, we believe it is important to find out how new technologies affect children early on.

“Our research will be able to tell parents whether tablets are helpful or a hindrance to child development.”

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, and a PhD studentship from the Turkish Government.

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The University of Sheffield


With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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