Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Early Child Development and Care

For a Special Issue on

The Digital Child in the AI Era: The Intersection of AI, Digital Technology, and Early Childhood Education

Abstract deadline
31 May 2024

Manuscript deadline
30 November 2024

Cover image - Early Child Development and Care

Special Issue Editor(s)

Sisi Tao, The Education University of Hong Kong
[email protected]

Jennifer Chen, Kean University
[email protected]

Mariya Stoilova, London School of Economics and Political Science
[email protected]

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The Digital Child in the AI Era: The Intersection of AI, Digital Technology, and Early Childhood Education

This special issue is dedicated to studies examining the burgeoning intersection of artificial intelligence (AI), digital technology, and early childhood education, with a particular emphasis on their dynamic impacts on the development and well-being (broadly conceived as psychological, social, cognitive, language and physical development) of young children (ages 0-8). Below, we provide a condensed overview of the context and objectives underpinning this research call.

The integration of AI-led digital technologies in education is met with both optimism and caution. On the one hand, the use of technologies like touch-screen devices, interactive educational apps, and virtual classrooms can present new opportunities for adaptive learning, cognitive expansion, and accessibility (Chen & Perez, 2023). While this can potentially improve teaching and student learning, the evidence to support the claimed learning benefits remains inadequate (Digital Futures Commission, 2023). On the other hand, concerns are expressed regarding the impact on educational technologies (EdTech) on children’s best interests, development, and safety. If used inappropriately, such tools can also  expose children to potential risks, such as sleep disturbances, attention disorders, and mental health challenges (Chassiakos et al., 2016). This double-edged sword suggests the imperative for educators and researchers to reevaluate the types, extent, and nature of children’s engagement with education technologies to better understand both their potential benefits and drawbacks, thereby informing future directions and health measures related to the implementation of EdTech for children.

In addition, the saturation of digital content also heightens concerns about the validity of information and the safeguarding of online interactions and privacy (Livingstone et al., 2019; Livingstone and Pothong, 2022). As AI becomes interwoven into the fabric of daily life, both educators, policymakers, parents, researchers alike should better explore the various AI-related domains. For instance, educational frameworks are being proposed to examine  digital technologies, necessitating creative pedagogical methods and advanced digital literacy (Anisimova, 2020), while parents grapple with the responsibility of monitoring and overseeing  their children's digital usage, balancing the imperative to protect against risks with the desire to cultivate technological proficiency (Modecki et al., 2022; Tao et al., 2022). Hence, there's now an urgent call for updated governance reflecting the omnipresence of digital media in line with OECD's strategic advocacy for a digitally adept future, underscoring the criticality of reassessing the roles and repercussions of digital technologies in the formative stages of children's lives (Burns & Gottschalk, 2019).

However, very few studies have systematically addressed the interactions between AI, digital technology, and early childhood education and their far-reaching and complicated effects on early childhood development. To fill this gap, this call invites cutting-edge studies that probe the weaving of AI-specific and other digital tools into young children's educational experiences and overall wellbeing. We welcome an array of investigative approaches, spanning from empirical research to theoretical discussions and comprehensive literature and evidence reviews. The evidence and knowledge gathered in this volume aims to inform future educational strategies and health policies, steering the lawful and beneficial application of digital technology within the sphere of early education, where digital use begins.

Topics and focus of manuscripts

For this special issue, we invite contributions that explore the integration and impact of AI-specific and other digital tools on young children’s learning and wellbeing. Potential subjects encompass a broad range, including but not restricted to matters concerning the children, parents, and teachers, for example:

  • Young children’s digital technology practices, competencies, and citizenship in broad sociocultural contexts;
  • Family digital environment, digital parenting, and parental mediation practices;
  • The impact of digital technology use on young children’s various areas of learning and development (e.g., play, social interaction, physical and mental health);
  • Educational innovation: Fostering digital learning in early childhood;
  • Frontiers of learning: AI and Metaverse in early education;
  • Parents’ understanding and engagement in AI-specific and digital technologies with their children.
  • Early childhood teachers’ perceptions of technology and digital literacy.
  • Early Childhood teachers’ use of AI technology for teaching.

Submission Instructions

All potential contributions will undergo the following four stages of the process:

Abstract submission:

Please e-mail your brief paper proposal to [email protected]. In your proposal, please include:

  1. The proposed title,
  2. A brief abstract (maximum word count of 800 words),
  3. Your name, affiliations, and contact details.

Abstracts should be submitted no later than May 31st, 2024. All proposals will be reviewed and the notification of the outcome will be communicated to you by June 31st, 2024. If your proposal is accepted, we will email you the author guidelines and related details.

Full Manuscript Submission:

All completed manuscripts should be submitted online via the ECDC website by November 30st, 2024. The journal is published by Taylor and Francis, that uses the Submission Portal system (for authors) and the Scholar One management system (for editors and reviewers). Please follow the Instructions for Authors and submit completed manuscripts at the ECDC submission portal.

Manuscript Review: All submitted manuscripts will be reviewed according to the standard ECDC double-blind review process. Please be advised that receiving an invitation to submit a full manuscript based on the merit of the initial proposal does not guarantee it eventual acceptance for publication in this theme issue. Authors will normally receive the results of this round of refereed review within 12 weeks of submission (by the end of February 31st, 2025) and will normally have 12 weeks to revise the manuscript based on the feedback (until May 31st, 2025).

The Publication Stage:

Your proof reading and the journal’s copyediting of your accepted manuscript for this special issue should be completed by June 31st, 2025. Upon competition of this stage, to facilitate immediate dissemination of knowledge, all manuscripts included in the issue will be published online in a fully citable form as soon as possible. Printed publication will take place at the earliest opportunity.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article