Children are growing up in a computational culture, and have been exposed to a variety of digital objects and virtual worlds. This study examines how children’s ideas about human life may be shifting due to familiarity with technology.
Children, aged 5-7 and 9-11, will participate in several tasks set up like matching games. In some, children are shown pictures of humans, animals, and robots, and are asked to choose which entities are most similar to one another based on the information available. In others, children are told stories describing a group of special doctors that perform operations. In each story, either a human is given robot parts, or a robot is given human parts. Children are asked whether the character changes identity or remains the same.
Previous research has shown that children tend to privilege biological factors when assessing entities in the world. However, other research has shown that exposure to computers may challenge children’s ideas about life. We are interested in understanding children’s ideas about the relationship between biological and artificial life. We predict that children in today’s digital world are less likely than adults to distinguish between biological and artificial life.
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This research is conducted by the Arts and Mind Lab at Boston College