Digital Literacy in Beginner Readers

Children born in the digital age, known as digital natives, interact constantly with a variety of new technologies and novel digital texts, compared to traditional printed texts, starting from preschool. These changes have risen relevant questions concerning literacy development in the 21st Century.

To address these questions, the present project, which has been founded and started at the University of Padua, aims to specify and test a unitary model of individual (i.e., literacy skills of children) and contextual factors (i.e., experiences of children and children and parents with texts) that:

  • account for the development of digital and printed text comprehension;
  • play a different role in the comprehension of digital and printed texts in beginner readers.

A longitudinal method has been adopted and contextual and individual factors have been assessed at the end of the last year of preschool; comprehension of printed and digital texts has been assessed at the end of the first school year. To collect information on individual and contextual factors both children and their parents have been involved in the project. Different methodologies such as questionnaires or indirect measures for parents, and checklists and tests or direct measures for children, have been used.


Digital literacy, text comprehension; longitudinal investigation, typical development

Principal Investigator

Elena Florit, previously at University of Padua, currently at University of Verona

Project Participants


24 months (September 2017- )

Current State

Data collection accomplished; data analysis in progress; part of results already published, one publication submitted and one in preparation.


Florit, E., De Carli, P., Lavelli, M., & Mason, L. (submitted). Digital reading in beginner readers: Advantage or disadvantage for text comprehension?

Conference presentations

Mason, L, Florit, E., & De Carli, P.. Digital and Printed Text Comprehension in First Graders: The role of Medium and Word Reading Skills. EARLI ONLINE, 18-20 August 2021.

Florit, E., Domenicale, S., & Mason, L. First Graders’ Reading Text Comprehension from Paper and Screen: A Longitudinal Study on Precursors. AERA web conference, 8-12 April 2021.

Florit, E., De Carli, P., Rosati, G., & Mason, L. Comprensione di testi cartacei e digitali in bambini frequentanti la prima classe della scuola primaria. Web conference AIRIPA, 25-26 settembre 2020.