The impact of electronic devices during the Covid-19 pandemic on grade 2 learners' socio-cognitive development

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Van Dyk, Danél
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University of the Free State
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased usage of electronic devices by learners, due to virtual classrooms and devices used for entertainment, which may impact the socio-cognitive development of learners. Previous studies done mainly outside of South Africa show mixed results: Electronic devices are beneficial to a certain extent but have detrimental effects on learners' social behaviour and cognitive abilities. The impact of electronic devices on the socio-cognitive development of learners has not yet received adequate attention from researchers within South Africa. This study aims to explore the impact of electronic devices during COVID-19 on the socio-cognitive development of Grade 2 learners. The location of the research is in a preparatory school (Grades 1 to 3) in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa. The quantitative research design used three questionnaires (screen time, social development, and cognitive development) participated in by parents, teachers and learners respectively, framed by Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory. The findings of the study showed that online learning and school closures severely impacted the socio-cognitive development of learners, and that they were not at the expected developmental level for their age group. Screen time increased significantly. However, the different levels of electronic device usage by learners had no significant impact on development. The COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, and online learning had a detrimental effect on the socio-cognitive development of the learners. Intervention should be done to address the underdeveloped socio-cognitive skills of learners.
Dissertation (M.Ed. (Early Childhood Care and Education ))--University of the Free State, 2021, Cognitive development, COVID-19 pandemic, electronic devices, National Lockdown, social development