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Academics to explore how pre-school children use apps to learn and play

Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor

Academics from Sheffield and Edinburgh are to carry out a study looking at which kind of apps for tablets promote play and creativity.

University researchers will collaborate with the BBC children’s television channel CBeebies, development studio and consultancy Dubit, children's media company Founding Bird and Monteney Primary in Sheffield on the study, which will begin in January 2015.

Professor Jackie Marsh from the University of Sheffield’s School of Education, who is leading the study, said: “We know that almost 40 per cent of pre-schoolers in the UK use tablets, but many parents and teachers say that they are not sure how to choose good apps for this age group.

“From our work, we aim to develop guidance on the features of apps that promote play, creativity and learning”.

Kay Benbow, controller of CBeebies, said: “It's hugely helpful to be working with partners to benefit from an academic lens on the work which will help us shape our future output and serve our audiences the best we possibly can.”

Peter Robinson, head of research at Dubit, added: “We've seen how tablets are able to grab children's attention in ways that physical media isn't always able to do. We're looking forward to taking part in this project.

“The more we can understand how children use these devices, the more we can help to improve their entertainment and their education.”

The study, which is being funded by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC), will be completed in June 2015, along with guidance on choosing apps for parents and early years practitioners.


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