Date of Conferral

2014

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Stacee Reicherzer

Abstract

In a time where some 2.4 billion Internet users exist worldwide, children are increasingly impacted by the Internet's influence, both directly and indirectly. With technology now playing a significant role in childhood learning and social development, many unforeseen shifts are occurring that will ultimately impact lifespan development. Although researchers have provided mixed results concerning the impact of the Internet on learning and social development, the body of evidence indicates that veteran K-8 educators who are comfortable and experienced with the Internet view it more favorably. This grounded theory study systematically generated the multisystem technological engagement theory (MSTET) to explain the impact of the Internet on childhood learning and social development. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 self-identified veteran K-8 educators. Analysis of the data was conducted using a 3-tiered method of coding that was verified through the process of triangulation and member-checking. Results of this study indicate that the veteran K-8 educators perceived the Internet's impact as positive, given a specific set of conditions: experience and comfort with the Internet, collaboration with parents, a healthy balance between face-to-face and online social interactions, boundaries, and maximization of benefits from available information and resources. These findings may enhance social change initiatives by providing an evidence basis for both targeted instruction and school counseling practice that facilitates healthy K-8 learning and social development in the Internet Age.