Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Sheila Walker

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© 2016 Alicia Breyer


The rising prevalence of media use and the decreasing use of books create a need for research on the positive learning effects these platforms may have on children. This study will explore how learning platforms (specifically books, television, and computers) in early childhood affect development of social awareness – in particular, empathy and altruistic behavior. The researcher will recruit approximately 192 participants, ages 3 to 5, and randomly assign them to one of three groups: book readers, television viewers, and computer gamers. The subject of the platform will be kept consistent through the use of the children’s television program Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The dependent variables, empathy and altruistic behavior, will be measured in the lab before and after a 6-month period in which the platform stimuli will be presented in the children’s homes by parents. All learning platforms are expected to have a positive effect on empathy and altruistic behavior, with books having the highest effect in participants. The results will help caregivers, parents, and teachers take steps to effectively create a better social awareness learning environment for children.