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The ability to attend to relevant information and resist attention to distractors is important for children’s cognitive development. Difficulties with attention can impede memory development and impact learning. Much has been written in the news about the impact of electronic media on children’s development of attention skills, but little research has been done explicitly comparing children’s attention to relevant information and resistance to distractions across activities that are presented in either tactile or electronic format. The goal of this study is to compare levels of attention and distraction among preschool-aged children while they engage in a common childhood activity, playing a board game, which is either presented in an electronic or tactile format. Also, comparing children’s basic understanding of the game across conditions will provide information on whether tactile or electronic games are more beneficial for children to get the most out of the task. Previous research is mixed on the potential benefits of electronic activities compared to tactile versions. One recent study suggested that the use of electronic media increases attention problems while decreasing executive function skills, but that it improves visual attention (Swing, 2013). Recent research also indicates that interactive websites appear to have many benefits for learning, but there is little empirical evidence to show media is more effective for learning as opposed to other types of instruction (Schmidt & Vandewater, 2008). Therefore, I hypothesize that while children’s visual attention to the game may be greater while playing the electronic game, the use of tactile pieces and the tactile game itself may serve as an interactive way to boost understanding. Therefore, I hypothesize that children will have a greater understanding of the game when it is a tactile board game. I will observe 10-20 families playing either the tactile or electronic version of Linear Numbers Board Game (Siegler & Ramani, 2009). Children’s attention, distraction, and understanding will be coded by the experimenter to determine how tactile and electronic games affect these skills.

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Honors Thesis

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Mary Fuhs

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Stander Symposium poster


Arts and Humanities | Business | Education | Engineering | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Honor's Thesis Proposal: Effects of Tactile versus Electronic Games on Attention, Distraction, and Understanding