Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Margaret Quinn

Committee Members

Hillary Fouts, Megan Haselschwerdt


In recent years, use of digital technology among young children has increased. As a result, digital apps are continuously produced and are often designed to support children’s learning. While research has progressively focused on the use of multimedia apps, little is known about their nature and quality, specifically that of picture book apps. Further, among the body of research examining gender in children’s literature, knowledge of representation and depiction of gender in digital picture book apps is scarce. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to critically examine popular picture book apps for children on a particular popular platform (iOS) in order to understand their nature, quality, and the ways and the degree to which they represent gender. After examining apps based upon inclusion/exclusion criteria, a final sample of 75 apps were used for analysis. Apps were analyzed for genre, the inclusion of transmedial features and the degree of user interactivity of those features, and components of gender. Findings indicate that despite the prevalence of apps that included most of the transmedial features, these apps were generally average in engaging interactivity and limited in genre categorization. Gender disparity was also found across apps, such as the tendency for masculine characters to be the central character and feminine characters to be portrayed with stereotypicaly feminine physical features. This study has implications for users and developers and suggests a general lack of diverse gender representation and the need for high quality, interactive, and engaging picture book apps for the benefit of young children.

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