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Preschool-age Children's Understanding About a Novel Robotic Toy: Exploring the Role of Parent-child Conversation


Robotic toys are more and more present in the lives of today’s children. The present research sought to address two research questions: (1) How preschool-age children conceptualize a robotic toy and (2) how parents talk with children about the robotic toy. Parent-child dyads were randomly assigned to watch videos of a contingent robot that followed directions (Contingent condition) or a non-contingent robot that did not follow directions (Non-Contingent condition). After watching the videos, children answered questions about the robotic toy (Interview 1), dyads participated in a short conversation, and children answered more questions about the robotic toy (Interview 2). Results suggest that children's judgment of the toy in the first interview was not related to the condition to which they were assigned. However, in the second interview, a significant difference was observed in children's judgment of the communicative ability of the toy. Children in the Contingent condition were more likely to say the toy could hear. During the parent-child conversation, more dyads in the Non-Contingent condition discussed the toy’s contingent behavior. This exploratory work provides insight into how parents help their young children make meaning out of their experience with a novel robotic toy.

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