July 13, 2024
Children notice everything
Young children pay attention to everything -- even when they don't have to.
Young children pay attention to everything — even when they don’t have to.

Adults are really good at paying attention only to what you tell them to – but children don’t ignore anything.

That difference can actually help children do better than adults in some learning situations, a new study suggests.

Researchers surprised adults and 4- and 5-year-old children participating in the study by making information that was irrelevant at the beginning of the experiment suddenly important for a task they had to complete.

“Adults had a hard time readjusting because they didn’t learn the information they thought wouldn’t be important,” said , co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

“Children, on the other hand, recovered quickly to the new circumstances because they weren’t ignoring anything. I’m sure a lot of parents will recognize that tendency of children to notice everything, even when you wish they wouldn’t.”

Sloutsky conducted the study with Nathaniel Blanco, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Ohio State. Their research was published online in the journal Developmental Psychology and will appear in a future print edition.