D: What are you watching, Yaël?
Y: A video about quantum computing. I’m taking an online course, Don.
D: It’s great how everyone can learn anything from a computer these days.
Y: Well, not everyone. Adults may be able to learn just fine by watching a video, but toddlers can have a harder time under certain circumstances.
D: You mean because they wouldn’t know how to sign up for an online course?
Y: No, not because of that. Researchers did a study with children ages 24 months and 30 months where they showed groups of children an object they called a “modi.” The goal was for the toddlers to learn the name of the object and complete a task with it—to put the modi in a bin. Both the 24 and 30 month-olds were able to do both if an in-person adult was teaching and actively engaging with them. The 30 month-olds were able to reach both goals even if the adult wasn’t actively engaging with them, just teaching. But both age groups failed to learn the object’s name or complete the task when they saw the adult teaching them through a video chat, even if the adult was interacting with them. Researchers say that’s because toddlers don’t realize the person on the screen represents a real person—children’s brains don’t make that connection until they’re about 3 years old. It’s important to note, though, that this study focused on learning via video chat, and other studies show that in other contexts toddlers can learn from media.
D: But you’re saying it might be better for a toddler to take an in-person course on quantum computing.
Y: I’d start with the ABC’s first.