Date of Award

Summer 8-25-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Lisa Fiore

Second Advisor

Susan Patterson

Third Advisor

Debra Murphy


The advancement of innovative digital technologies has created a generation of digital natives (children) growing up in a diverse environment designed by a population of digital immigrants (adults). Consequently, this everyday experience has created some dissonance in their lifestyles, raising questions for educational leaders. The purpose of this mini-ethnographic case study was to develop a deeper understanding of how engaging with digital tools shapes the social interactions of young children, and to examine the various ways online/offline social environments influence face-to-face social peer group formation and functioning. Furthermore, this study explored whether digital technology influences the developing social identities of young children. This study reflects the voices, understandings, and beliefs of ten English speaking kindergarten children studying in an International School in Jerusalem, Israel, gathered through participant observations, interviews, and field notes. Data analysis resulted in key findings related to how children: 1) engage in online social environments; 2) watch online movies alone or with family members; 3) utilize stories and characters portrayed in these movies as the common communication thread and basis for social classroom interactions; 4) engage in outdoor play grounded in traditional young children’s games; and 5) experience the dominant role that parents play in bridging, moderating, and managing the lives of young children in a digital era. Implications for early childhood educators, educational leaders, and parents are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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