Understanding the impact of Children’s Exposure to Digital Texts on reading related skills

  • Parminder Kaur Khela

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Despite the omnipresence of digital technology, little is known about the effects of new media on young children’s literacy development. This thesis gives insight into the extent of digital text exposure prior to starting school, and parental attitudes, perceptions and concerns in relation to this. A series of experimental studies compared the reading abilities and visual attention of children with high and low exposure to digital technology and digital texts. Two novel experiments were conducted. The first used eye tracking to compare the visual selective attention (using a change detection task) of high and low exposure groups. Overall, findings showing the effects of exposure to digital technology on children’s performance on visual attention taskswere limited. The second compared reading across different types of media. Reading time was longest for paper, followed by tablet and then laptop, suggesting laptops facilitate quicker reading. However, there was no effect on reading comprehension. When digital exposure was also considered, there was no difference in reading time, reading comprehension nor reading accuracy across different media types. Standardised measures of vocabulary, word reading and attention were also compared. The low exposure group had significantly higher vocabulary scores compared to the high exposure group. However, both groups scored within the normal range within their population. No effects of digital technology exposure were found for word reading or attention. Overall, limited differences between exposure groups should help ameliorate parents’ concerns regarding their children’s digital technology use in including
    concerns about attention reported by parents in Chapter 2.
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorHelen Breadmore (Supervisor), Clare Wood (Supervisor), Stoyan Kurtev (Supervisor) & Julia Carroll (Supervisor)


    • digital technology
    • attention
    • reading
    • vocabulary
    • comprehension
    • young children

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