How Do Computers Affect Children’s Desire to Socialize?

 

 

_____________________________________________________________

 


            Computers continue to play a vital role in today’s generation. The need for information about the effects of computers on their users also increases. The purpose of this study was to investigate how computers affect socialization in two different ethnic groups. Eight trials consisting of children aged five to eight were conducted. Among the findings, Asian and Hispanic children, when working on computers, never chose to switch to a more social situation, a game of Twister, when compared to another individualized task-coloring books. While both the Vietnamese and Hispanic children switched to the social situation over a period of time, the Hispanic children switched to the social situation over a period of time, the Hispanic children did so more quickly. Both ethnic groups communicated less while working with the computer than with the coloring task. The results of both groups point to a lowering of socialization when working on computers as opposed to coloring books. This information is especially critical when one considers the age at which computers are being introduced to children versus the critical window of emergent socialization.

________________________________________________

Keywords: computers, socialization, children

________________________________________________


INTRODUCTION

Computers have played a significant role in all aspects of American life ever since they came into existence in the late 20th century. They have shaped and molded the way people live and interact. People once questioned the harms and benefits a computer would give a child. Their belief was that children who relied on these machines would lose their individuality, get out of touch with their own cultural roots, and confuse actual reality with virtual reality [5].

Researchers were afraid that computers would instigate a loss of socialization among young children. Numerous experiments, such as ones performed by Allison Druin and Michael Scaife, have been targeted at the effects computers have on children. For many people, the basic definition of socialization would be the adoption of the behavior patterns around the surrounding culture [6]. Many experiments have been targeted at the effects computers have on children’s socialization skills. For example, one of the various questions that has arisen is if the lack of physicality in the virtual world is an aid to a child’s self-expression or a hindrance to his or her individuation [3]. Despite the large number of research projects, scientists still do not know all the behavioral, cognitive, or emotional influences that these interactive products have on children.

A different argument made was that with on-line technologies, children would have the opportunity for more immediate communication with many diverse individuals [2]. This would give them the freedom to express themselves more openly with like-minded people without the fear of being criticized for who they are. Scientists conducted a study using Logo, a computer programming language, to see how it would affect children’s reasoning, logic, and cooperation skills [1]. They found that after the Logo experience, young children showed an improvement in their social skills, self-esteem, and mental progress [2]. Other studies have found that working on the computers has instigated collaborative work among children. Scientists have found that placing computers close to each other can also facilitate the sharing of ideas among children [4]. This course of action encourages more spontaneous peer teaching and helping. Contrary to popular belief, some studies suggest that computers do not isolate children; rather, they serve as potential catalysts for social interaction [1,7].

            If the literature were correct, we would expect to see substantial communication using computers and no particular reluctance to engage in a social task. On the other hand, if computers compelled the child to become absorbed to the point of preferring computers to social interaction, we might see a reluctance to leave the computer for a social game.

            My hypothesis for this research was that the Vietnamese children would talk less than the Hispanic children while on the computers and the coloring books. Also, both ethnic groups would socialize less while on the computers than on the coloring books.

            The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects computers had on young children. The primary focus was to understand which ethnic group was more influenced by computers. The information derived from this study can, with further research, be used to develop stronger and more efficient computer and socialization programs for young children. Socialization plays an enormous role in a child’s life – whether it is with peers or the family. Understanding the interpersonal effect upon the socialization aspects of a child when exposed to a computer will help better prepare various organizations, schools, and families as computers are integrated into our society.

METHODOLOGY

            Eight trials were conducted to observe how computers affected children’s desire to interact with one another and how the desire to socialize varied in the two different ethnic groups. The two ethnic groups used were Hispanic and Vietnamese children ages five to eight. Thirty-two children from Hispanic and Vietnamese background were studied at their two churches respectively. This ensured that each child was comfortable in his or her own surroundings and was familiar with the other children. Each group consisted of four children ranging from the same ethnic background. The program used on the computers was an educational game targeted at children ages 3-8 called “Freddie Fish 4”.

 1. Starting off with Computers

Four groups started off in this stage. In phase one, each small group was given access to computers and had a set time of thirty minutes either to play on the computers or switch over to a group game. The children were given instructions to play on the computers for as long as they liked. After they got tired of the computers, they were allowed to play Twister for the remainder of their session. Immediately after the thirty-minute session, the children were asked to start on phase two.

In phase two, the computers were taken away; in the computers’ place, coloring books were given to the children for another thirty-minute session. If they got tired of the coloring books, they again had the option of playing Twister. They were timed on how long a coloring book kept their interest before they played a board game.

2. Starting off with Coloring Books

The remaining four groups started off in this stage. For phase one, instead of starting off on computers, the children started off on coloring books. The children again had the choice of playing Twister if they chose. For phase two, the children were able to play on the computer. If they got tired of the computers, Twister was again an available option.

Data and observations were made on how long each element kept the children’s attention and how each it differed in each ethnic group. In this experiment, the independent variable was the child playing on the computer or the child playing with the coloring book. The dependent variable for the project was how long it took until the child left to play the board game. A secondary dependent variable was a measure of how long the children talked during the coloring and computer tasks.

RESULTS

            In this experiment, eight sessions were performed in total. Both Hispanic and Vietnamese children spent most of their time on computers. When the Hispanic children were exposed to coloring books, they spent an average of 18 min. on the task before engaging in a social activity; the Vietnamese children spent 22 minutes. The results also show that while the Hispanic children talked less when engaged in an individual task, they still spent less time on that activity. The Vietnamese children’s attention span was sustained over a longer amount of time on the coloring books, and they also conversed more during this period.

As can seen from the graphs, computers maintained both minority groups’ attention for nearly the thirty-minute session. While the children were on the coloring books, there was a significant decrease in their attention span on that particular individual activity compared to the computer task. This is also reflected in the minimal time the children talked while on the computers as compared to that on the coloring books. As shown on Figure 1, the sessions that started on coloring books stayed more focused on that first task than the sessions that started on computers. While the sessions that started on computers stayed focused on that activity almost the entire time, they had a more difficult time focusing afterwards on the coloring books.

CONCLUSION

Analyzing, comparing, and contrasting the social activeness of children on individual tasks illustrate the effect of computers on young children’s habits during an individual and social task. With the presence of a computer, the motivation to socialize of both Asian and Hispanic children was hindered. Hispanic children were engaged on computers for a longer period of time than the Vietnamese children. The differences in ethnicity and in the basic standards of living for each child may contribute to this difference of interest in individualized tasks. There was also the suggestion that working with computers had an effect on the socialization of tasks that follow, in this case the coloring book. While the 5 - 8 age group might not present the lowering of age of when computers are introduced, the studies also suggest that computers could affect a mental growth.

In conclusion, although computers do not completely hinder kids from socializing, computers do play a part for the lack of conversing among children during and after the exposure.

FURTHER RESEARCH

The objective of this research was to encourage further investigation into the involvement of computers in children’s daily lives. Because using computers showed a decrease in socialization among children, more research could be conducted on the psychological effects of computers. Only a minimal number of children and sessions were tested and an extension of these sessions would be a natural furtherance of this research. Testing different pieces of technology on a wider range of ethnic children would be a natural direction for this research to be taken.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First of all, I would like to thank St. Andre Dung Lac and Mr. Brauser’s church for graciously allowing me to use their facilities. I would like to express my gratitude to Quoc Pham for making a big part of my project a success.  Also, I would like to thank Dr. Frank Durso from the University of Oklahoma for his insight and research help on my paper. To my parents, thank you for all of your unending spiritual support, help, and guidance.  Last, I would like to thank Mr. Bradley O. Brauser for his continuous support and confidence in my project.

WORKS CITED

[1] Clements, D.H., Swaminathan, S. “Technology and school change: New lamps for

old?” 1995. Online. Internet. 22 October 2000. Available WWW:

http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/org/buildingblocks/newsletters/tech_and_school_dhc.htm

 

[2] Druin, Allison. “Computers and Kids: My Kid Doesn’t Need A Computer…” January   

            1998. Online. Internet. 19 September 2000. Available WWW:

            http://www.acm.org/sigchi/bulletin/1998.1/kids/html

 

[3] “Early Connections: Technology in Early Childhood Education.” July 1998. Online.

Internet. 28 September 2000. Available WWW:

http://www.netc.org/earlyconnections/questions.html

 

 

[4] Haughland, Susan W. “Computers and Young Children.” ERIC Digest. March 2000.

            Online. Internet. 22 October 2000. Available WWW:

            http://www.ericeece.org/pubs/digests/2000/haugland00.html

 

[5] Stutz, Elizabeth. “Some thoughts on the arguments concerning children and

            computers.”  Online. Internet. 6 October 2000. Available WWW:

            http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~estutz/computer.html

 

[6] “Technology and Young Children – Ages 3 through 8.” April 1996. Online. Internet.

 24 August 2000. Available WWW:

            http://www.naeyc.org/about/position/pstech98.htm

 

[7] “Technology in Early Childhood Programs.” 1996. Online. Internet. 28 September

2000. Available WWW:

http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content3/technology.early.p.k12.2.html


 

ADDENDUM

 

 

 

 

STATISTICS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Time Talked During Individual Activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subject

Trial Block 1

Trial Block 2

Sums

 

Subject

Trial Block 1

Trial Block 2

Sums

V1

17

5.75

22.75

 

H1

16.5

4.5

21

V2

13

4.75

17.75

 

H2

14.25

10

24.25

V3

11.5

7.25

18.75

 

H3

9.25

6

15.25

V4

14

5.5

19.5

 

H4

11.75

6.25

18

Sums

55.5

23.25

 

 

Sums

51.75

26.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3

55.5 + 23.25= 78.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

51.75 + 26.75= 78.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP4

Added up scores for each group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5

(17)(17) + (13)(13) + (11.5)(11.5) + (14)(14) + (5.75)(5.75) + (4.75)(4.75) +

 

 

 

(7.25)(7.25) + (5.5)(5.5) = 924.6875

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(16.5)(16.5) + (14.25)(14.25) - (9.25)(9.25) + (11.75)(11.65) + (4.5)(4.5) + (10)(10) + (6)(6) +

 

 

(6.25)(6.25) = 894.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

924.6875 + 894.25 = 1818.9375

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 6

55.5 + 23.25 + 51.75 + 26.75 = 157.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 7

(157.25)(157.25) / 16 = 1545.472656

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 8

1818.9375 - 1545.472656 = 273.464844

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 9

(22.75)(22.75) + (17.75)(17.75) + (18.75)(18.75) + (19.5)919.5) + (21)(21) + (24.25)(24.25) +

 

 

(15.25)(15.25) + (18)(18) = 3150.0625

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3150.0625 / 2 = 1575.03125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1575.03125 - 1545.472656 = 29.558594

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 10

(78.75)(78.75) / 8 + (78.5)(78.5) / 8 = 1545.476563

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1545.476563 - 1545.472656 = .0039065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 11

29.558594 - .0039065 = 29.5546875

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 12

273.464844 - 29.558594 = 243.90625

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 13

55.5 + 51.75 = 107.25(Trial Block 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

23.25 + 26.75 = 50(Trial Block 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(107.25)(107.25) / 8 + (50)(50) / 8 = 1750.320313

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1750.320313 - 1545.472656 = 204.8476565

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 14

(55.5)(55.5) / 4 + (23.25)(23.25) / 4 + (51.75)(51.75) / 4 + (26.75)(26.75) / 4 = 1753.609375

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1753.609375 - 1545.472656 - .0039065 - 204.8476565 = 3.285162

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 15

243.90625 - 204.8476565 - 3.285162 = 35.7734315

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 16

 

 

df

 

 

 

 

 

 

SSt

273.464844

   16-1=15

 

 

 

 

 

 

SSb

29.558594

   8-1=7

 

 

 

 

 

 

SSc

0.0039065

   2-1=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sserrorb

29.5546875

   7-1=6

 

 

 

 

 

 

SSw

243.90625

   15-7=8

 

 

 

 

 

 

SStr

204.847657

   2-1=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

SStr x c

3.285162

   1x1=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

SSerrorw

35.7734315

   8-1-1=6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 17

MSt= .0039065 / 1 = .0039065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mserrorb = 29.558594 / 6 = 4.926462333

 

 

 

 

 

 

MStr = 204.8476565 / 1 = 204.8476565

 

 

 

 

 

 

MStr x c = 3.285162 / 1 = 3.285162

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mserrorw = 35.7734315 / 6 = 5.962238583

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 18

Source

    SS

df

    MS

     F

     p

 

 

 

Total

273.464844

15

  ----------

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

 

   Between subjects

29.558594

7

  ----------

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

 

   Conditions

0.0039065

1

0.004

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

 

   Error b

29.554875

6

4.926

2.4324

  >.05

 

 

 

Within Subjects

243.90625

8

  ----------

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

 

   Trials

204.847657

1

204.8

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

 

   Trials x conditions

3.285162

1

3.285

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

 

   Error w

35.7734315

6

5.962

2.3782

  >.05

 

 


 

 

 

 

STATISTICS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                    Time Until Social Activity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subject

Trial Block 1

Trial Block 2

Sums

 

Subject

Trial Block 1

Trial Block 2

V1

25

28

53

 

H1

21

30

V2

15

30

45

 

H2

8

30

V3

30

30

60

 

H3

30

30

V4

16

30

46

 

H4

11

30

Sums

86

118

 

 

Sums

70

120

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3

86 + 118 = 204

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

70 + 120 = 190

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP4

Added up scores for each group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5

(25)(25) + (15)(15) + (30)(30) + (16)(16) + (28)(28) + (30)(30) + (30)(30) + (30)(30) = 5490

 

(21)(21) + (8)(8) + (30)(30) + (11)(11) + (30)(30) + (30)(30) +(30)(30) + (30)(30) =5126

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5490 + 5126 = 10616

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 6

204 + 190 = 394

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 7

(394)(394) / 16 = 9702.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 8

10616 - 9702.25 = 913.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 9

(53)(53) + (45)(45) + (60)(60) + (46)(46) + (51)(51) + (38)(38) + (60)(60) + (41)(41) = 19876

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19876 / 2 =9938

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9938 - 9702.25 = 235.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 10

(204)(204) / 8 + (190)(190) / 8 =9714.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9714.5 - 9702.25 = 12.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 11

235.75 - 12.25 = 223.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 12

913.75 - 223.5 = 690.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 13

86 + 70 = 156(Trial Block 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

118 + 120 = 238(Trial Block 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(156)(156) / 8 + (238)(238) / 8 =10122.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10122.5 - 9702.25 = 420.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 14

(86)(86) / 4 + (118)(118) / 4 + (70)(70) / 4 + (120)(120) / 4 = 10155

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10155 - 9702.25 = 452.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 15

690.25 - 420.25 = 452.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 16

 

 

df

 

 

 

 

 

SSt

913.75

   16-1=15

 

 

 

 

 

SSb

235.75

   8-1=7

 

 

 

 

 

SSc

12.25

   2-1=1

 

 

 

 

 

Sserrorb

223.5

   7-1=6

 

 

 

 

 

SSw

690.5

   15-7=8

 

 

 

 

 

SStr

420.25

   2-1=1

 

 

 

 

 

SStr x c

452.75

   1x1=1

 

 

 

 

 

SSerrorw

270

   8-1-1=6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 17

MSt= 12.25 / 1 = 12.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mserrorb = 235.75 / 6 = 39.291667

 

 

 

 

 

MStr = 420.25 / 1 = 420.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

MStr x c = 452.75 / 1 = 452.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mserrorw = 270 / 6 = 45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 18

Source

    SS

df

    MS

     F

     p

 

 

Total

913.75

15

  ----------

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

   Between subjects

235.75

7

  ----------

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

   Conditions

12.25

1

0.312

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

   Error b

223.5

6

39.29

----------

----------

 

 

Within Subjects

690.5

8

--------

 ----------

 ----------

 

 

   Trials

420.25

1

420

9.3333

p < .025

 

 

   Trials x conditions

452.75

1

452.8

10.062

p < .025

 

 

   Error w

270

6

45

----------

----------

 

 


Computers

Coloring Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vietnamese

5.8125

13.875

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hispanic

6.6875

12.9375

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vietnamese

 

 

 

Hispanic

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

 

 

Coloring Book

17

13

11.5

14

16.5

14.25

9.25

11.75

 

 

Computers

5.75

4.75

7.25

5.5

4.5

10

6

6.25