The medium can obscure the message: young children's understanding of video

Child Dev. 1998 Aug;69(4):950-65.


In the first few years of life, children acquire a great deal of general information through symbolic media, including television. Here we explored whether very young children would use information presented via video to solve a retrieval problem. The children watched on a monitor as a toy was hidden in the room next door. A group of 2 1/2-year-olds was very successful at finding the hidden toy based on the televised hiding event, but a group of 2-year-olds was not. Substantially better performance was achieved by other 2-year-olds who either watched the hiding event directly through a window or who believed they were watching directly (but were in fact looking at the monitor through the window). These results (like those from other symbolic media such as models and pictures) indicate that very young children have difficulty using a symbolic representation as a source of information about an existing situation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Logic
  • Male
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Reality Testing
  • Television*
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology
  • Video Recording*
  • Visual Perception / physiology