Daily smartphone use boosts infant pupils’ memory
OECD study also finds that using a computer, tablet or smartphone at least once a month is linked with better literacy scores
Children who use digital devices every day have significantly better working memory outcomes than those who never or hardly ever use them, new research has shown.
And using a computer, tablet or smartphone at least once a month is also linked with better early literacy scores, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), published today.
The International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS) found that the frequency with which five- and six-year-olds in England use digital devices is a “significant predictor of their working memory outcomes”.
“While the use of a digital device in and of itself may not influence a child’s outcomes, the types of activities that a child engages in while on those devices may enable the development of different skills,” the report said.
It added: “The working memory outcomes of children who used a digital device every day (34 points) or at least once a week (39 points) but not every day were significantly higher than those of children who never or hardly ever used one, even after accounting for socioeconomic status.”
However, the differences in memory outcomes were far more pronounced in girls than boys.
The report found that there was a 44-point difference between outcomes for girls who used a device once a week, and those who never or hardly ever used one.
But for boys, there were “no significant differences” in outcomes based on the frequency with which they used a device.
The study also found that children who never or hardly ever used laptops, tablets and smartphones had “significantly lower” average early literacy scores than those who did so on a monthly basis.
But there was “no significant difference” in literacy scores between children who hardly ever or never used devices, and those who did so weekly or daily, the report said.
The report found that, of those for whom data was available, more than a third of children in England (39 per cent) used a desktop or laptop computer, tablet device or smartphone every day.
A further 46 per cent used a device at least once a week, while 9 per cent did so at least once a month and 6 per cent never or hardly ever used such devices.
Caroline Sharp, research director at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), said: “The findings suggest that moderate use of computers, tablets and smartphones is appropriate for five-year-olds, providing it does not get in the way of other valuable activities between a parent and their child, such as having a conversation and reading them bedtime stories.
“Moderate use of around one to three times a month was associated with the highest levels of emergent literacy.”
Amy GibbonsAmy Gibbons is a reporter at TesFind me on Twitter @tweetsbyames