Macquarie University
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The impact of interactive apps on children's executive function

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posted on 2022-03-28, 16:45 authored by Anne-Lii Hardy
Executive function (EF) refers to a set of cognitive processes involved in the control of thoughts and actions (Zelazo & Muller, 2011). EF develops significantly over the preschool years and predicts developmental outcomes and academic achievement (Carlson, 2005; Diamond, 2013). This experimental study investigated the immediate impact of playing interactive application (app) games on the EF skills of 48 preschool aged children.Children were randomly assigned to three groups. Two groups engaged with an interactive tablet device to play app games which differed in pace (fast or slow) and fantastical content (fantastical or realistic), while a third group played with toys. Fantastical content was defined as physically impossible events, such as characters violating gravity or appearing out of nowhere (Lillard, Drell, Richey, Boguszewski & Smith, 2015). Children's EF was assessed before and after the condition using developmentally sensitive measures of three key EF skills: working memory, inhibitory control and attention shifting. Based on previous research that has explored the impact of fantastical media on children's executive function, the group that played the fast paced, fantastical app was expected to show a greater depletion of EF than the other two groups (Lillard, Drell et al., 2015). The anticipated depletion of EF was not observed. Interactive engagement and the role of attention are proposed as possible explanations of this findings -- abstract.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature review -- Chapter 3. Methods -- Chapter 4. Results -- Chapter 5. Discussion.


Bibliography: pages 61-71 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences , Department of Educational Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Educational Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Carol Newall


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