Do you see what I see? Children’s understanding of perception and physical interaction over video chat

AbstractHow do children reason about people presented over video chat? Video chat is a representation, like a picture; but is also a real social interaction (the partner sees and hears you). Do children understand the nuanced affordances and limitations of video chat? We tested 4-year-old children’s reasoning, asking if a person over video chat (vs. a live person; photograph) could see, hear, feel, and physically interact through the screen. Children judged that a person over video chat can see, but cannot feel nor receive an object, through the screen. The person over video chat was judged to hear more often than a photograph, but less often than a live person. Preschool children are not limited to considering a stimulus fully representational, or fully present; instead, they understand video chat as a medium that blurs the boundaries of representation and reality, allowing for a mixture of life-like affordances and picture-like limitations.

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