Television viewing and picture-book reading are prevalent activities during toddlerhood (Rideout, Vandewater &Wartella, 2003). Parents and teachers assume that toddlers'can easily learn from these symbolic media by transferring new information from books or television to the corresponding real-world objects they encounter in their daily lives. For example, one would expect that a child who is shown an armadillo in a book or on television would recognize it at the zoo sometime later. However, making this connection may be quite difficult for toddlers. Based on Hayne's (2004) representational flexibility hypothesis the degraded perceptual attributes of the symbolic representation may make learning from these media a challenging task for toddlers', especially when they are tested under difficult conditions (i.e., no narration, long delays, novel reminders). To date, however, very few empirical studies have explored the way in which toddlers learn from media exposure. Recent research shows that under some conditions toddlers'can relate the material presented from books and television to the corresponding real-world objects (Barr &Hayne, 1999;Meltzoff, 1988;Simcock &DeLoache, 2006). However, the range of conditions under which information learned from media is recalled has yet to be systematically explored. In the proposed research we will use an imitation paradigm to explore ecologically valid conditions under which toddlers'exhibit learning from media presentations. Imitation assesses higher cognitive skills and involves an adult modeling a series of target actions to the toddler who is later given an opportunity to reproduce them. First, we will examine the effect of narration on imitation from television and books. Second, we will examine the duration of retention for information learned from television and books. Third, we will examine the effect of reminders on the retention of information learned from television and books. The proposed research will have important theoretical implications for our understanding of the development of learning and memory from symbolic media in a range of challenging conditions. It will help inform parents, teachers and policy makers about the validity of claims that early exposure to books has positive effects on cognitive development whereas early television exposure has negative effects (APA, 1999). Finally, the research will have important practical implications for people working with toddlers as how to best design and use media as effective teaching tools.

Public Health Relevance

There is an increasing awareness of the public health implications of early exposure to television and books. Studies have demonstrated both positive and negative associations between media exposure and attention, sleep, and emotion regulation and school readiness. Direct investigation of the cognitive processing of symbolic content during toddlerhood warrants further investigation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Griffin, James
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Georgetown University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Barr, Rachel; Brito, Natalie; Simcock, Gabrielle (2013) Revisiting the effect of reminders on infants' media memories: does the encoding format matter? Dev Psychol 49:2112-9
Brito, Natalie; Barr, Rachel; McIntyre, Paula et al. (2012) Long-term transfer of learning from books and video during toddlerhood. J Exp Child Psychol 111:108-19
Simcock, Gabrielle; Garrity, Kara; Barr, Rachel (2011) The effect of narrative cues on infants' imitation from television and picture books. Child Dev 82:1607-19
Barr, Rachel (2010) Transfer of learning between 2D and 3D sources during infancy: Informing theory and practice. Dev Rev 30:128-154