Social learning from media: the need for a culturally diachronic developmental psychology

Mark Nielsen*, Frankie T.K. Fong, Andrew Whiten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Citations (Scopus)


Since the proliferation of television sets into households began over half a century ago there has been widespread interest in the impact that viewing has on young children's development. Such interest has grown with the increasing availability of smart phones and tablets. In this review we examine the literature documenting human social learning and how this learning is impacted when the instructing agent appears on a screen instead of face-to-face. We then explore the shifting nature of screen-based media, with a focus on the increasingly socio-normative manner information is portrayed. We discuss how the changing nature of screen technology might be altering how children interpret what they see, and raise the possibility that this may render prevailing evidence as historical documentation, rather than setting out established developmental milestones that transcend the period in which they were documented. We contend that recognizing the significance of historically changing contexts in developmental psychology is timely when the COVID-19 climate is pushing data collection on-line for many labs, often using tasks that were developed primarily for face-to-face contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in child development and behavior
EditorsJeffrey J. Lockman
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherJAI Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780323850667
ISBN (Print)9780128245774
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in child development and behavior
ISSN (Print)0065-2407


  • Social learning
  • Overimitation
  • Social constructivism
  • Video deficit


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