Technology therapy with MakerKids®: Supporting children’s socioemotional development with innovative STEM-based programming

Technological advancements have profoundly altered the lives of children and youth in the 21st century. While there are undeniable harms associated with excessive screen use, digital media has positively transformed how children learn, make friends, and interact with society. Research has firmly established the benefits of technology-based learning for young people’s reasoning and thinking abilities, and preliminary evidence also suggests that some digital media activities may improve children’s mental health. These findings support the potential for an innovative form of “technology therapy”, though this has received little research attention. Thus, this project will evaluate whether long-term enrollment in MakerKids® coding, robotics, and Minecraft courses improve children’s well-being and social skills. Data from surveys completed by parents of children enrolled MakerKids® classes will be analyzed using advanced statistical modelling. Results will help parents, clinicians, and educators understand ways to harness the power of technology to improve children’s mental health and promote positive attitudes toward digital media use.

Intern: 
Jasmine Zhang
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dillon Browne
Province: 
Ontario
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