Salford Staff Channel : News


Want to help our researchers find out more about children’s apps?

Jan 03, 2019

Ava plays on the touchscreen tablets in the lab
Ava plays on the touchscreen tablets in the lab

The burgeoning choice of children’s apps available to download can feel a little bewildering. So how can you tell if an app or a game that claims to be educational, really does have some educational potential? That’s what colleagues in the Cognitive Development lab in Allerton Building are trying to find out as part of a three-year Economic and Social Research Council funded study and your child could help them.

The App market offers parents and children a wide range of apps and games to choose from. Many apps for young children are labelled as ‘educational’, but so far there has been no research to determine whether they are actually effective in teaching children. Parents have little time to scope advice on what to buy or download from the internet. Unfortunately, there is minimal professional guidance about what is educational and what is not.

Dr Gemma Taylor, Cognitive Psychologist, supported by Research Assistant Joanna Kolak are exploring how children aged two to four years learn language from educational touchscreen apps. The team ask children to wear special glasses tracking their eye movement and are looking at children’s attention during tablet use – what are they focusing at on the screen when they are using an app on the tablet and what it tells them about the child’s word learning.

Their research will help identify whether touchscreen apps can benefit children’s learning and can subsequently help parents make better choices.

You can see more about the project on this Granada Reports news item here.

Joanna said: “We would like to invite parents and children in our University community to visit us in our lab and to take part in our fun games. Our lab is a colourful child-friendly room full of toys with some space for parents to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while we tell them about the study. Children will play on our specially designed word learning app and do some fun language-based activities with us. The study takes approximately 45 minutes together with short breaks between the activities. Children who have visited us so far had lots of fun with our games!”

If you have a child aged 2 – 4 and would like to visit them in the lab or get more information about the study, please get in touch: