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Language in educational apps for pre-schoolers: A comparison of grammatical constructions and psycholinguistic features in apps, books and child directed speech

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Child Language
Number of pages27
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date28/04/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Language in touchscreen apps could be useful as an additional source of children’s language input, alongside child directed speech (CDS) and books. Here we performed the first analysis of language in apps, as compared with books and CDS. We analysed language in 18 of the most popular educational apps targeting pre-schoolers and compared their language content to children’s books and CDS with respect to types of constructions and psycholinguistic features of words. We found that apps contained lower frequency words and had lower lexical diversity compared to CDS, and shorter utterances compared to books. Apps may thus provide an enriched supplementary form of input for young children, due to containing less frequent words. However, apps do not expose children to a high proportion of questions and complex sentences, both of which are crucial for supporting child’s development of structurally rich constructions.