For two-and-a-half-year-old Charlotte, seeing her grandmother brightens her day.
It’s fun for Nona, too. But should screen time be avoided for young kids? Developmental psychologist Lauren Myers says not necessarily.
“There’s a lot of research that suggests that when children can interact with somebody over a screen that they process that differently than if they’re watching a pre-recorded video,” said Myers, Ph.D. Assistant Professor at Lafayette College.
Researchers studied 30 children age 12 to 24 months who had video chat interaction six times over the course of one week. The researchers asked the children to perform actions, taught them new words, and reacted to them in real time.
After a week of video chats, the researchers also interacted face-to-face and noticed patterns among the older children.
“And so starting at about 17 or 18 months they would do things like prefer to play with the person they had video chatted with over the stranger,” Myers said.
Researchers also studied 30 children who only watched pre-recorded videos. Myers says unlike the video chat group, these children did not form a relationship or learn new words or patterns when the partner was pre-recorder.
“And that back and forth pattern of interaction is something that’s really crucial for early learning. That’s what video chat preserves,” Myers said.