Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Malecki, Christine K.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


The current study examined the link between digital device use and learning among 3rd through 8th graders. Specifically, it examined whether parenting strategies aimed at enabling or restricting device use can mediate the link between children’s time on device and learning outcomes. Moreover, this study examined whether certain vulnerability factors within a child’s ecological system, such as ADHD Symptoms, parents’ own digital literacy, and parents’ relationship with the school, might weaken or strengthen the success of parental mediation strategies in the association between time on devices and learning. Findings aimed to inform growing equity questions around varying levels of digital benefits for children with different vulnerabilities within their ecological systems. Data were collected from a final sample of 101 parents through an online survey between May and July of 2020. Results indicated that parental mediation strategies did not fully mediate the association between device use and learning. However, enabling parental mediation was positively associated with learning, whereas time on device was negatively associated with learning. Moreover, when vulnerability factors were entered into the model, these relationships disappeared in most models, but remained only when ADHD Symptoms were added to the association between device use and learning via enabling mediation. Finally, exploratory questions about COVID-related changes offered preliminary insights into the possibility of a COVID-induced acceleration of the equity gap in the relationship between device use and learning.


134 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type