Exploring Triadic Interactions : The Roles of Joint and Sustained Attention in Infant-Parent Play with Traditional Toys and Digital Media

Hudspeth, Kimberley and Lewis, Charlie (2023) Exploring Triadic Interactions : The Roles of Joint and Sustained Attention in Infant-Parent Play with Traditional Toys and Digital Media. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Abstract

Infants’ ability to engage jointly with a caregiver in mutual experience of an object is a well-researched phenomenon, which is positively associated with many developmental outcomes. Despite appearing a robust psychological construct, joint attention has recently faced new challenges from the idea that it is sustained attention, not joint attention, within triadic interactions that drives the positive relationships we see with later developmental abilities. Conversely, sustained attention in other contexts has been demonstrated to be negatively associated with later IQ. This poses interesting theoretical considerations for the nature of both sustained and joint attention, which are addressed in Chapters 2 and 3 of this thesis. A crucial component missing from many theoretical positions on joint attention, is an account of the role of the object in shaping the triadic interaction. Research shows that engagement with screen media and touchscreen devices can be detrimental to the quality of joint attention that a child and caregiver will engage in. This is reflected in guidance from advisory bodies who recommend limiting, or even completely avoiding, screen time in children under the age of two. However, research in this area focusses primarily on older children, and very little work has investigated how infants, who are only just developing the ability to triangulate their attention, engage jointly with these kinds of devices. These empirical questions are explored in Chapters 4, 5 and 6. The aims of this thesis are, therefore, twofold. First, to examine how young infants experience and engage in joint attention episodes with touchscreen devices and electronic media in comparison to traditional books and toys. Secondly, to evaluate and reflect on our theoretical understanding of sustained and joint attention, and how the nature of the object may influence the quality of the interaction. The studies presented here suggest that the activity performed with toys and touchscreens influences the quality of infant-caregiver interaction and provide some evidence for digital devices promoting social exchange. They also pinpoint how the infant’s early understanding of objects and language are influenced by a complexity of factors, including parental language input, their concentration on objects of shared attention and their ability to coordinate their attention to objects and their interlocutor.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
221410
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
19 Jun 2024 12:25
Refereed?:
No
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
16 Jul 2024 06:08