At-Home Online Behavior and Cognitive Development during Middle Childhood
Genevieve Marie Johnson
Parents of 128 children in a elementary school provided information on home Internet access and children’s online activities. Children were individually administered four measures of cognitive development (expressive language, metacognition, visual perception, and auditory memory) and were asked to define ten Internet terms (e.g., email, chat, website). Ability to define an Internet term was assumed indicative of experience with that application. Parent response to the open-ended item what does your child do when he/she uses the Internet at home was thematically organized into four types of Internet behavior: learn, play, browse, and communicate. Children’s ability to correctly define Internet terms as well as parent reported online learning and communicating (but not playing and browsing) were associated with increased cognitive scores. Focused and goal-directed online activities (e.g., learning and communicating) are recommended for children 6 to 12 years of age.
Keywords: Children, internet, online behavior, cognitive development