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Design meets Science

Prof. Dr. Patrícia Dias


Prof. Dr. Patrícia Dias | Lisboa/Portugal: Assistant Professor of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the Catholic University of Portugal.

She is also a researcher at the Research Centre for Communication and Culture Studies, and coordinator of the post-graduate course on Communication and Social Media. Holding a PhD in Communication Sciences, her research interests are digital media, young children, mobile communication, marketing and public relations. She is a member of the COST actions eRead and DigitLitEY, of CEDAR (Consortium on Emerging Directions in Audience Research) and also of the European Commission's project "Young Children (0-8) and Digital Technologies". She is author of "Living in the Digital Society" (2014) and "The Mobile Phone and Daily Life" (2008).

Young Children and Reading: From paper/digital to phygital

In our contemporary society, young children are being born in mediatized and connected homes, and coming into contact with digital media almost since birth (Livingstone & Third, 2017). In recent years, research has focused on how young children are appropriating and using digital media, and has highlighted to role of parents as mediators, and also overviewed and discussed the benefits and risks of their digital practices (Plowman, McPake & Stephen, 2008; Chaudron et al., 2015; Holloway, Green & Stephenson, 2015; Dias & Brito, 2016, 2017; Brito et al., 2017). Research has also focused on the potential of digital media for learning, and stressed the contrast between media-populated informal learning settings and media-lacking formal learning settings. Literacy is one of the main topics researched, discussing whether using digital devices or paper for young children to learn how to read and write has impacts on the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and also on the experience of learning itself. Findings on the advantages and disadvantages of using digital media in the classroom are contradictory and inconclusive (Hsin, Li & Tsai, 2014): for instance, there is evidence that papers favors memorization and fine motor skills, while tablets stimulate problem-solving, creativity, and social skills. Research on this topic has stretched up to University students, who demonstrate making strategic choices of medium for reading depending on the purpose of reading (e.g. studying versus leisure), on the setting (e.g. library versus home; alone versus accompanied; fixed versus on-the-go), and on their own mood (e.g. distracted versus focused) (...; Kuzmikova et al., 2017). However, if adults perceive a distinction between digital and physical, that is not the case for the younger generations. Research has shown that young children perceive the world as an integrated experience, and without references of a pre-digital age, the distinction between analog and digital is not evident for them. They live in a phygital world, where different media and technologies are integrated and intertwined in their daily experiences (Dias & Brito, 2017). For instance, while parents are attentive to screen-time and often establish rules about it (Chaudron et al., 2015), children perceive play as an integrated experience, and like to explore the same themes and fictional universes with toys, drawings, digital games, social interaction (Marsh, 2017). The Internet of Toys is reinforcing this phygital understanding and experiencing of the world, making available for children diverse types of connected and self-learning toys (Mascheroni & Holloway, 2017). The contrast between the dichotomous perception of adults and the integrated perception of young children is often reinforced in the classroom, where technology is often regarded as a medium in itself, and used for developing digital skills, instead of being a tool to scaffold the learning a diverse topics and competences (Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009). This communication discusses the implications of the contrasting perceptions of the society we live in across generations, highlighting the paradox between the analog versus digital view and the phygital perspective. This discussion is illustrated with results from empirical research on reading in different supports with University students and preschoolers, emphasizing how much the differentiated perception of the media shapes their use, and its implications (Kuzmikova et al., 2017; Brito & Dias, forthcoming).

Die Konferenz FURE „The Future of Reading“ konzentriert sich auf die Chancen und Herausforderungen des Umbruchs in der Medienwelt.