Technology therapy with MakerKids®: Supporting children’s socioemotional development with innovative STEM-based programming

We are doing a study with the University of Waterloo about the social-emotional impacts of our work.

Technological advancements have profoundly altered the lives of children and youth in the 21st century. While there are undeniable harms associated with excessive screen use, digital media has positively transformed how children learn, make friends, and interact with society. Research has firmly established the benefits of technology-based learning for young people’s reasoning and thinking abilities, and preliminary evidence also suggests that some digital media activities may improve children’s mental health. These findings support the potential for an innovative form of “technology therapy”, though this has received little research attention. Thus, this project will evaluate whether long-term enrollment in MakerKids® coding, robotics, and Minecraft courses improve children’s well-being and social skills. Data from surveys completed by parents of children enrolled MakerKids® classes will be analyzed using advanced statistical modelling. Results will help parents, clinicians, and educators understand ways to harness the power of technology to improve children’s mental health and promote positive attitudes toward digital media use.

Letter to Parents

Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s),

We are excited to announce a collaboration between MakerKids and researchers from the University of Waterloo! Please see the message below from the research team at the University:

Technology is an important part of growing up in the 21st century, and research shows that STEM learning can support children’s cognitive and academic growth. Even more exciting is potential for technology classes to promote children’s mental health and social skills. MakerKids offers the perfect way for researchers to explore this area. 

To learn more, a research team from the University of Waterloo led by Dr. Dillon Browne—a clinical psychologist and an expert on child development—would like to learn about on how children are doing as they complete MakerKids programs. If you choose to participate, you will be asked to complete a series of short online surveys over approximately 8 weeks. These surveys will include questions about your child’s emotional well-being, social skills, and other aspects of their mental health.

To be eligible for the study, you must be a caregiver to a child (aged 6–13) participating in weekly MakerKids classes, who lives in the same household as you. Participants must also be able to read English in order to complete the surveys.

To thank you for your time, you will receive a gift card ($10–20 in value) for each survey they complete. This means that you can receive up to $5100, while also helping us understand how to support positive development in children in the digital age!

You can learn more about the study here: 

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Board. Please note that your decision to participate or not participate in this study will not impact the services that your child/children receive from MakerKids. Rather, this study is conducted by a separate team at the University. If you have any questions about the research, please feel free to email [email protected], or contact the study’s Principle Investigator, Dr. Dillon Browne, at [email protected]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Dr. Dillon Browne

University of Waterloo

Department of Psychology

1-519-888-4567 ext. 31555