Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 4-16-2020

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Dr. Meredith Meyer

First Committee Member

Dr. Meredith Meyer

Second Committee Member

Dr. Cindy Laurie-Rose

Third Committee Member

Louise Captein


Psychology, Emotional Learning, Children, Tablet App, Interactive Devices

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Developmental Psychology


As the popularity of child-friendly tablet-based apps and games has grown, the need to evaluate the effects of tablet play has also developed. The current study used an app designed for children ages two to five years called “Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings” to examine whether prosocial interactive media can be beneficial for emotional development. The present study was modeled after a study by Rasmussen et al. (2018), wherein children ages three and four years spent two weeks with an experimenter- adapted version of the same app. This experimenter adaptation consisted of limiting children’s access to a subset of the available games. Similar to this prior study, the present study also investigated the efficacy of this interactive media (specifically its efficacy in learning emotional skills, such as emotion recognition and emotion understanding). However, unlike the prior study, this study allowed children to access all features of the app to see if the results found by Rasmussen et al. (2018) replicate, and to improve ecological validity. This study also contained a parental interaction component, whereby some children were assigned to a condition in which parents were encouraged to interact with their child during app usage, and some children were assigned to a condition in which parents were encouraged to allow their child to independently use the app. Regardless of parent interaction, children’s emotion recognition scores increased after app interaction, but their emotion understanding scores did not. These findings suggest that young children can learn basic emotional skills using educational apps without the requirement of parental interaction, and that they can transfer that learning.