Beginning early in development, children learn from watching others and through social interaction. Do children learn about the social world when they watch screens, and can that compare with real life?
Social interaction is an important pathway towards learning social cognition throughout the lifespan, but may be particularly critical in the first few years of life. As of 2011, a nationwide survey of children under eight found that, in America, two thirds of 0- to 1-year olds have watched TV, and 37% do so at least once every day; moreover, nearly one in three children under one year of age have a TV in their bedroom (Common Sense Media, 2011). Because media are in children’s learning environments from such an early age, they are an important influence on burgeoning social cognition (Greenfield, 2009a; Rideout et al., 2010).