Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Education

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Hagstrom, Fran

Committee Member/Reader

Aslin, Larry

Committee Member/Second Reader

Carter, Vinson


This study explored the developmental play behaviors and use of nonverbal communication of children that are raised in homes that differ in the amount and kind of digital exposure they have experienced within the first three years of life. Thirty minute videotaped play sessions of seven different children ranging in age from 20 to 30 months who were categorized as having low digital exposure in the home, TV exposure only, or high digital exposure based on a digital use questionnaire completed by parents were coded for the contribution of eye gaze, body positioning, and hand movement engagement to negotiate play with real and digital objects. Average instances of eye gaze and body positioning were higher in the physical toy condition than in the digital toy condition, regardless of the children’s exposure to digital technology in the home. Average hand movement engagement for children in the low digital exposure group was higher when playing in the digital toy condition compared to the physical toy condition. It was essentially uniform in the physical toy condition and in the digital toy condition for the children in the TV exposure only and the high digital exposure groups. Results suggest that during play with digital toys, the amount of eye gaze and changes in body positioning displayed by the children were significantly decreased compared to physical toy play, regardless of the extent of digital exposure in the home. The average use of hand movement engagements, however, was acutely similar for physical and digital toy play conditions across all children.