Building Meaningful Parasocial Relationships Between Toddlers and Media Characters to Teach Early Mathematical Skills

Alice Ann Howard Gola, Melissa N. Richards, Alexis R. Lauricella, Sandra L. Calvert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Very young children have difficulty transferring what they view onscreen to their offscreen worlds. This study examined whether familiarizing toddlers with a character would improve toddlers' performance on a subsequent seriation task. Toddlers were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) a familiarized character condition where toddlers viewed character-based videos and engaged in character-based play over a 3-month period before viewing the seriation video demonstration; (2) an unfamiliarized character condition where the toddler only saw the seriation video demonstration; and (3) a no-exposure control group where the toddler did not see the seriation video demonstration or have any involvement with the character. All toddlers were tested on the same seriation task at age 21 months, with the familiarized character group beginning the study at age 18 months and the other groups participating only at age 21 months. Toddlers in the familiarized character condition, but not the unfamiliarized character condition, completed the seriation task significantly better than the no-exposure control group. Within the familiarized character condition, toddlers who nurtured the character during play subsequently had higher seriation scores. The results suggest that meaningful relationships with media characters can help toddlers learn early mathematical skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-411
Number of pages22
JournalMedia Psychology
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

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