Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Educational Policy and Leadership
Evans, Karen S.
The motivation for this study arrived in an unlikely way. In May of 2003, I was at my medical doctor's office for my annual physical exam. As my doctor and I usually did, the conversation turned to his pride and joy-his preschool son, Noah. My doctor told me of Noah's life and the things he enjoyed. According to my knowledge of two-year old boys, all of the activities were normal except one-working on the home computer. I was amazed. Two years old and working on the computer? His father explained how, and what, he did and how Noah had learned to ask for his favorite software programs and web sites. This fact amazed me and got me to thinking about my own children, ages 11, 14, and 16. While they dabbled in commercial programs like Jumpstart First Grade and Where in the World is Carmen Santiago?, I could not recall any one of my daughters even knowing what a computer was, let alone operate it. And yet why not? We had one in the home during their preschool years. Both my husband and I had used it. They had likely seen the public librarian, their pediatrician and the sales clerk at the electronics store use one as well. Yet as preschoolers in my home, the computer was not a learning tool for them. What had happened from their preschool existence to Noah's? How had home computers worked their way into the repertoire of a 2-year old? As I discussed this potential phenomenon with my advisor and future committee chairman, she also was intrigued. When had the use of home technology become a daily activity in the lives of little ones and had the education community missed it? The query was on! As I began investigating, a jewel from scholar heaven dropped in my lap-a recent report commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation detailing preschoolers' use of electronic media--computers, and television, and videotapes. The report entitled, Zero to six: Electronic media in the lives of infants. toddlers. and preschoolers became the cornerstone of my inquiry. To my relief and curiosity, the report found this phenomenon as fascinating and unexamined as I did. Preschoolers' use of technology had somehow existed below the radar of early childhood education and now the report was calling for more research. I took that call, expanded it to include the acquisition of emergent reading skills in the home, and here before you are the results of my pursuit to answer the questions, What role does technology in the home play in the development of emergent reading skills in preschoolers? And how is that role affected by sibling help?