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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Apr 5, 2023

Children are encountering technology at younger and younger ages, which leads many parents to ask: how do children engage with technology at each stage of development and how can they best be supported?

From toddlers who are exploring their immediate environment, to twentysomethings who are exploring their place in society, technology inevitably and profoundly affects human development. What happens to the little ones, the tweens, and the teenagers when technology — ubiquitous in the world they inhabit — becomes a critical part of their lives? Katie Davis, Associate Professor at the UW Information School, brings much-needed clarity to what we know about technology’s role in child development, as well as guidance for how to help children of all ages make the most of their digital experiences.

In her new book Technology’s Child, Davis draws on her expertise in developmental science and design research to describe what happens when child development and technology design interact, and how this interaction is complicated by children’s individual characteristics and social and cultural contexts. Critically, she explains how a self-directed experience of technology — one initiated, sustained, and ended voluntarily — supports healthy child development, especially when it takes place within the context of community support.

Children’s experiences with technology — their “screen time” and digital social relationships — have become an inescapable aspect of growing up. Davis identifies the distinctions between different ages and stages and how they engage with technology, offering invaluable guidance for parents and teachers navigating the digital landscape, and for technology designers charting the way.

Katie Davis is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington Information School, where she is a founding member and Co-Director of the UW Digital Youth Lab. She is the co-author of The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, Imagination in a Digital World (with Howard Gardner) and Writers in the Secret Garden: Fanfiction, Youth, and New Forms of Mentoring (with Cecilia Aragon).

Technology's Child
Third Place Books