Can Toddlers Benefit from FaceTime Video Chat?

Learning is Possible for Toddlers in Video Chat

Video chat is becoming a trend. Interestingly, toddlers can interact with people through video chat. FaceTime video chat is a good example for this. Some concerned pediatricians and parents may assert that video chat cannot equal quality interaction time compared with face-to-face communication.

To find a credible answer to whether video chat could be a good learning platform for toddlers, a team of Lafayette College psychology researchers took a closer look at young children and video interactions. The team made some surprising discoveries about what kids aged 1-to-2-years-old do and don’t get out of FaceTime interactions on a screen.

What are these discoveries?

Professor Lauren J. Myers, Ph.D, and her team at the Lafayette Kids Lab at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., revealed that young children paid attention and responded to their on-screen partners particularly through interactive video chat. The researchers found that toddlers responded in sync with the partner, such as imitating actions like clapping.

In addition, the team discovered that video chat makes learning possible for children under 2 years old. One reason for this is that video chat mimics in-person interaction where the on-screen person can respond to the child accurately in a back-and-forth conversation.

toddlers benefit from facetime video chat.
A baby interacting through facetime.

Toddlers Learn Social Information Through FaceTime

The study tested whether young children form relationships and learn from people via video chat like FaceTime.

The team tested two groups of toddlers aged 1-to-2-years-old. Sixty children experienced one week of either real-time FaceTime conversations or pre-recorded videos (30 in each group) as the partner taught novel words, actions and patterns.

After one week of video chatting, children in the FaceTime (live) condition learned social information. Young children preferred and recognized someone they had previously only ‘met’ via video-chat. In addition, toddlers learned cognitive information, new words and patterns in video chat.

One thing to consider also is, learning occurred from video chat only when children talked to an on-screen “partner” who responded to them in real time. In contrast, learning did not occur when the partner was pre-recorded and couldn’t actually see or hear the toddler.

Another Discovery

The team of researchers also found out that starting at about 17 months, children begin to get something out of live video interaction with real people. Interestingly, toddlers can apply the interaction to people like Grandpa and other people they know with whom they have a relationship in real life.

In addition, video chat interactions represent a form of quality time and toddlers can tell the difference between live interactions and the pre-recorded ‘fake’ interactions.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.