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Children talk more about others' thoughts and emotions when playing with dolls than iPads

If your child is bored, it may be tempting to hand over the iPad, but a new study may encourage you to reach for a doll instead.

Cardiff University researchers have revealed that children talk more about the thoughts and emotions of others when playing with dolls than with electronic devices.

According to the team, talking about other people’s internal states allows children to practice important social skills and is beneficial for emotional development.

dr. Sarah Gerson, who led the study, said: ‘When children create imaginary worlds and role-play with dolls, they first communicate aloud and internalize the message about the thoughts, emotions and feelings of others.

“This can have positive long-term effects on children, such as stimulating higher social and emotional processing and developing social skills such as empathy that can be internalized to build and shape lifelong habits.”

Cardiff University researchers have revealed that children talk more about other people's thoughts and emotions when playing with dolls than with electronic devices

Cardiff University researchers have revealed that children talk more about other people’s thoughts and emotions when playing with dolls than with electronic devices

What is internal state language?

Internal State Language (ISL) is when children talk about what they think and feel out loud at first, and then it becomes internalized as they get older.

ISL can indicate that the child is thinking about other people’s thoughts, emotions and what other people know.

These are skills that are important for interacting with other people, learning from other people, and navigating all kinds of social situations.

In the study, which was commissioned by Barbie, the researchers wanted to understand the effects of playing with different types of toys and objects on “Internal State Language” (ISL).

dr. Gerson explains: ‘This is when children talk about what they think and feel out loud at first, and then it becomes internalized as they get older.

‘Internal state language can indicate that the child is thinking about other people’s thoughts, emotions and what other people know.

“These are skills that are very important for interacting with other people, learning from other people and navigating all kinds of social situations.”

The researchers observed 33 boys and girls, ages 4-8, playing with a Barbie doll or a tablet, either alone or with another person.

Using functional, near-infrared spectroscopy equipment, the team was also able to study the children’s brain activity during the experiment.

Their observations showed that playing with dolls evoked more ISL.

‘The children in our study played roles with the dolls, which was a nice sign that they were practicing the social skills they would use with other people,’ explains Dr Gerson.

Conversely, when playing on the tablet, the children talked about characters in the game, but did not act out their roles.

While the children were taking ISL, the brain scans also showed increased brain activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS).

“We found that when they use this internal state language, pretending the puppets have thoughts and feelings, their brain activity in a region called the posterior superior temporal sulcus — which is involved in the development of social processing and emotion processing skills — is more involved.” and present,” added Dr. Gerson to it.

While the children were taking ISL, the brain scans showed increased brain activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS)

While the children were taking ISL, the brain scans showed increased brain activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS)

While the children were taking ISL, the brain scans showed increased brain activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS)

‘That way we see, at both brain and language level, that they practice these kinds of skills.’

This was true for both girls and boys, indicating that playing with dolls can be beneficial for all children.

The researchers suggest that puppetry gives children the opportunity to recreate scenes and interactions from their daily lives, such as what they see their parents or teachers doing.

‘Parents often think, ‘What is educational for my child?’ concluded Dr Gerson.

“We forget that in order to learn and build on that, you need some foundations to understand other people and interact with other people.

“If you’re in a classroom, but you don’t get along well with your peers and your teacher, you won’t be able to learn much.

‘So developing those social skills is a very important lifelong skills that is crucial, in addition to classical content education.’

HOW MUCH SCREEN TIME SHOULD TEENAGERS GET?

A recent study from San Diego State University found that the happiest teens were those who limited their daily digital media time to just under two hours a day.

After this daily hour of screen time, the unhappiness steadily increased with increasing screen time.

Looking at historical trends of the same age groups since the 1990s, the researchers found that the increase in screen devices over time coincided with an overall decline in reported happiness among American teens.

Study participants born after 2000 were less satisfied with life, had lower self-esteem and were more unhappy than those growing up in the 1990s.

Since 2012, the satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness of the average teen has plummeted.

That year marked the point where the proportion of Americans with a smartphone rose above 50 percent for the first time.

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