The emotion-learning connection

Local News

Toddlers spend about one to two hours a day in front of a screen… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  With TV shows and mobile app’s, there are several educational tools that can improve a young child’s learning.

Amy Smith is a mother of four.  She wants to make sure her kids are always learning and shows like Sesame Street help her out.  But, will kids learn just as effectively from virtual pals? 

Psychology Professor at Georgetown University, Sandra Calvert has spent years studying how children process and understand digital media.  She says, “You have to look at the diet of media that children are being exposed to…  Children come to care about characters and therefore, they learn better from them. So, it’s a motivational direction.”

The more the child nurtures the puppet during play, the greater the emotional connection and the more likely that child can learn from the character on the screen.  For Amy, the character, Baby Doctor, is making a lasting impression on her kids.  “My four-year-old son always talks about his future. He says he would like to be a doctor to help babies.”

Elmo from Sesame Street is very effective in helping kids learn.  Calvert says parents can increase engagement and learning by interacting with the child while he plays with the puppet.  When the characters have the same likes as the child, the child can establish a deeper emotional connection and is better able to learn.

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