Team of scientists at Univ. of Iowa conduct study on screen time

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa is changing the way children interact with technology.

A team of scientists at UI created an online portal called StoryCarnival . Those who use it are a part of a research study to help adults support children in pretend or dramatic play. With guided prompts and play sessions, StoryCarnival is an especially important aspect of this study given the increased use of tablets, phones, and computers.

“We wanted to have a different way of thinking about technology for young children,” said Professor Juan Pablo Hourcade, the person leading this team of scientists. “With a focus on supporting children’s creativity, face-to-face communication, and a connection to the social and physical environment around children.”

Children can pick characters, and select story prompts like planning a birthday party or traveling to space. From there, the program guides them through, but ultimately the children go through it in real time, eventually walking away from the screen to use their own toys, and interact with their family members or classmates.

Katie Linder and her 6-year-old daughter Sadie are two current participants in the study. She says this is different than “screen time” that is spent just watching a video or playing a game.

“You know kind of what your role is and what you should be doing and everybody is on the same page for the game. It takes some of the over thinking out of it,” said Linder. “It’s taking some activity away from the screen in terms of that live play element that happens afterwards and is just encouraging more play. Which is great for development, it’s a skill, it allows her to practice other skills.”

Not only are the children able to participate and gain new skills, but so are the adults in their lives.