When he was a toddler, our son Jim was entranced by Barney the Dinosaur. He’d watch the program for an uninterrupted 30 minutes each day, giving exhausted parents a much-needed chance for a rest, while Jimmy learned important skills such as counting and letters. While the rest was welcome, our belief that the programming was educational might have been misguided. An article in BPS Psychology Digest has the details. Apparently two-year-olds just don’t pay attention to instructions transmitted via the TV:
In an initial study by Georgene Troseth and colleagues, two-year-olds told face-to-face where a toy was going to be hidden went and found it in the first place they looked 77 per cent of the time, whereas those told by the same researcher via a video-recording found the toy in the first place they looked just 27 per cent of the time.