Actions with Virtual Objects on Touch Screen Devices: Analysing the Perceptual Experience of Contemporary Preschoolers



The paper focuses on the analysis of perception of virtual objects (objects of the virtual environment displayed on the screens of touch screen devices) in children of early and preschool age engaged in actions with these objects. The first part of the article reviews the psychological outcomes of a child mastering how to operate a touch screen device as a tool from the standpoint of D.B. Elkonin’s theory of child development and P.Ya. Galperin’s concept of the functional differences between a tool and a means. In the second part of the article we analyze the perceptual experience obtained by children of early and preschool age when using touchscreen devices. As we see it, the main distinguishing feature of perception of virtual objects is the discrepancy between the information received through the visual and haptic channels. We analyze the results of experimental studies that reveal the impact of this phenomenon on the process of perception of virtual objects and the extent to which the representations of virtual and real objects differ: 1) the ability of children to process haptic information, as well as to implement intermodal transfer, improves at the age of 5 to 7 years; 2) in situations of a significant discrepancy in information from different senses, children under 6 do not perform multisensory integration, but rely on one sense (usually vision). In our pilot study (17 children aged 4—5 years), a significant increase in the time of haptic recognition of a virtual object as compared to a visually perceived one (Temp = 28 at p ≤ 0.05) was detected. This can be taken as an argument in favor of the fact that children move beyond the limits of processing only visual information in situations of visual-haptic discrepancy.

General Information

Keywords: virtual reality, haptic perception, visual-haptic mismatch, multisensory integration, touch¬screen, preschoolers

Journal rubric: Empirical Research


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 20-013- 00308 А.

For citation: Krylova S.G., Vodyakha Y.E. Actions with Virtual Objects on Touch Screen Devices: Analysing the Perceptual Experience of Contemporary Preschoolers. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2021. Vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 59–66. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2021170109. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Svetlana G. Krylova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Institute of Psychology, Ural State Pedagogical University, Ekaterinburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Yuliya E. Vodyakha, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Institute of Psychology, Ural State Pedagogical University, Ekaterinburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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