Cutting One’s Teeth in the Digital Age

When choosing whether or not to believe external sources of information, children are influenced in large part by their familiarity with the source. Research has shown that children judge a familiar teacher that presents incorrect information as more credible and trustworthy than an unfamiliar teacher who presents the same incorrect information. However, less is known about the influence of familiarity on children’s judgments about the credibility of media characters.

Because media characters may serve as potentially credible sources of information, researchers at the CDMC are experimentally investigating how familiarity influences the trustworthiness of media characters among children by having children play a fruit-naming game on an iPad. In this game, a familiar character (Elmo) and an unfamiliar character (DoDo, a children’s character popular in Taiwan) present and label fruit.

This project investigates source credibility using the touch screen technology of the iPad. The CDMC team has created the fruit-naming iPad app specifically for use in this study, allowing researchers to investigate the role that familiarity plays in children’s judgments made about information presented to them on the iPad. In addition to learning about trust, our goal is to also investigate how children interact with and use touch screen technology.