What do we know about technology use?

Examining the prevalence and type of technology-use in the Down syndrome population

Su Morris 1; Emily K. Farran 1; & Katie A. Gilligan-Lee 1

  1. University of Surrey

Contact: s.morris@surrey.ac.uk


Introduction: Cognitive and educational training studies have revealed that technology-based interventions can improve performance in typical populations. However, the use of technology-based training in children and adults with Down syndrome is limited by a lack of research on technology-use in this group. Only one study, completed in the USA, has explored technology-use in individuals with Down syndrome, finding high levels of technology-use across tablets, phones and gaming devices (Fritz, 2017). We will expand these findings to a broader age range of individuals and will address previously unanswered questions.

Research questions: The overarching aim of this study was to identify the patterns of technology-use in people with Down syndrome. We examined overall patterns of technology-use, social media-use, and gaming-use; associations between parental concerns and technology-use in children and young people with Down syndrome; and the impact of individual differences within our sample (for example, physical difficulties with using equipment, or the importance of technology for everyday living) on their technology-use.

Methods: Caregivers of individuals with Down syndrome aged 5 to 35 years completed an online questionnaire. In total, 222 caregivers (49% female) took part. All participants were recruited from the UK and Ireland.

Results: This study revealed useful insights into patterns of technology-use in people with Down syndrome, and associations with factors such as caregiver concerns or confidence. Overall, caregivers felt that technology and social media use, and to a lesser extent gaming, played an important role in their son/daughter's life. The amount of technology-use and social media-use in children and adults increased with age, but there was no significant age effect on gaming-use. Despite concerns about social media-use, caregivers felt that social media was an important aspect of communication and friendship for their son/daughter.

Impact: Our findings are essential for designing optimal technology-based programmes for individuals with Down syndrome, as well as providing useful information to their caregivers about wider patterns of technology-use.

The evolution of digital autonomy in young adults with Down syndrome #socialparticipation

Isabelle Simonato 1; Dany Lussier-Desrochers 1; Claude L. Normand 2; & Alejandro Romero-Torres 3

  1. Département de Psychoéducation, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Canada
  2. Département de Psychoéducation de et Psychologie, Université du Québec En Outaouais, Canada
  3. Département de Management et Technologie, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

Contact: isabelle.simonato@uqtr.ca


Background: In our digital society, inclusion and social participation now require technological knowledge and skills. The pace of adaptation is challenging for people with intellectual disability (ID) because technologies (hardware, software) are constantly changing or being updated. This situation may create a digital divide and gives rise to a new form of social exclusion. It can also hinder the fulfillment of social roles in key areas (e.g. work, school, leisure). An educational program was created (TASA) with the goal for participants (adults with Down syndrome) to become competent in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in their everyday life. In a collaborative research design, researchers and a Down Syndrome Association implemented the program and evaluated its effects on participants' level of digital literacy and autonomy.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with TASA participants (n = 7) and with one of their parents at four different periods (beginning, mid-program, end of the program and a follow-up three months later). In addition, participant performance observations were collated during activities. Following a multiple case study approach, qualitative data were analyzed longitudinally to describe the evolution of digital literacy and autonomy of each participant.

Results: Results show an increase in participants' autonomy in their use of ICT, a transfer of learning at home and the diversification of ICT usage. Furthermore, participants demonstrated evolution, at their own individual pace, on each of the dimensions of Lussier-Desrochers et al.'s (2017) digital inclusion model (access, sensorimotor, cognitive, technical, and social skills).

Conclusion: The results show evolution in the use of ICT among all participants, regardless of their initial digital skill level. In addition, the study shows that with appropriate support, people with ID can develop their digital autonomy and become more self-determined in their use of ICTs.