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Researchers have long studied how passive television viewing affects young children, and how well children can learn from watching educational programming, but scientists are only just beginning to figure out how babies understand screen interactions with another person in real time.
Michael Rich, the director of the Center on Media and Child Health and a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School, said that the latest findings help illustrate how the concept of “screen time” is too broad.
And there’s no way for the baby to know the person can’t see them.”These sorts of challenges in logic and reasoning exist not just for babies but for older kids, too, all the way up to around the time a child is in second grade.
“Previous observational research has shown that children under 7 have trouble using phones—and babies and toddlers in particular have trouble with it,” Mc Clure said. There are a lot of cognitive skills that go into understanding what a disembodied voice represents.”More broadly, watching how babies handle interactions that are separated by a screen is one way to get at the question of how they process and understand their surroundings in general.
“Just because they stare at a screen doesn’t mean they are interpreting it, decoding it, understanding it,” Rich said.
“Can a baby decode the pattern of light and dark on a two-dimensional object as a symbol of Grandma’s face, and perceive that the noise they hear is generated by Grandma talking to them?
Extended families are increasingly spread across greater geographic distances.
Video calls are how many babies first meet their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, and other people who love them.
If there’s something wacky about it, it bothers them.”Study after study has demonstrated that when the natural timing in an interaction lags, it can “really hurt a baby’s ability to learn,” said Rachel Barr, a developmental psychologist at Georgetown.
“Just saying something like, ‘The internet’s not working,’” Barr said.
“That’s what you would do if you were orienting a child to any other sort of new play situation, helping them navigate.
“Given the plethora of screens and uses for those screens that we have now, I think that we have to be a little sanguine about how much we can extrapolate,” he said.
Of course, babies being babies, it’s hard to know what they’re thinking just by watching how they act.
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”Back at Georgetown, Mc Clure and her team conducted a survey across Washington, D.