Here's What Babies Really Think About Skyping With Grandma

baby skypingIf you've ever plunked your baby down in front of Skype or FaceTime and wondered, "Does my kid get that the person on screen is grandma?", here's some heartening news: Science says babies understand video chat technology far better than we might think.


Elisabeth McClure, a media researcher Georgetown University, has found that babies as young as 6 months old can grasp the difference between interacting with someone on-screen versus, say, watching a television show.

"Babies who are pretty young are able to pick up, in particular, whether or not an adult is actually responding to them in real time," McClure told The Atlantic. "Some television shows try to imitate this. You see, for example, with Elmo, or on Blue's Clue's, they look directly at the camera and pretend to interact with the child. There's evidence that babies can tell the difference as early as 6 months old."

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As evidence, McClure points to how babies engage in "interactive play" via video chat, which is something they'd never do with regular old TV.

"Babies also like to share things through the screen, particularly food," McClure explained. "They like to try to feed their grandparents. Then [the grandparents] pretend to receive the food on the side and eat it."

Aw, this is so nice to hear. I recall when my daughter was 1, I tried Skyping during a business trip and she saw me on the laptop and immediately freaked out. I had no idea what she was thinking, but it clearly wasn't good. I figured it was probably something along the lines of, "Yikes, why is Mommy inside the computer?"

There have been other times, though, when my daughter seemed to enjoy seeing her grandparents on-screen -- so it's nice to know that babies may actually understand this technology better than we think.


Image via Andrey_Popov/shutterstock

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