Document Type



Media is loading

Publication Date



preschool-aged childrem, preschool, children, shared book. reading, virtual partners


Joint attention, or the ability of young children to coordinate their attention with another person to share focus on the same object, develops between nine and 36 months and is crucial for allowing young children to develop communication skills necessary for social interactions. Activities such as book reading can facilitate these joint attention behaviors in face-to-face interactions. When young children are being read to, they are generally able to interact with the individual reading to them and engage with the book. However, when toddlers and young children are being read to over video chat, those social interactions become more difficult, and joint attention is harder to achieve due to the cognitive challenges presented by the screen. The present study evaluates which conditions joint attention can be achieved virtually over video chat, and whether this leads to differences in children’s engagement. This study used a within-subjects design where participants were read children's books over Zoom in all three conditions (researcher holding up book, researcher and child having a copy of the book, and a screen-shared digital version of the book). Data collection is complete, and scoring of the behaviors is well underway. We predict that there will be differences in attention and engagement between the conditions. We also expect that there will be differences between the conditions of joint attention bids from the children in that participants in the two book conditions will engage in more bids with the researcher over participants in the other condition. There may also be an age-related effect, as older children are likely to engage more with the researcher regardless of the book reading condition. Results will advance scientific understanding of joint attention development in screen-mediated contexts, and will support recommendations regarding activities that promote meaningful interactions between children and remote adults.

First Advisor

Gabrielle Strouse

Research Area

Counseling & Psychology in Education