Work Memory Development Dynamics in Children Aged 5 to 7 in a Period of Social Isolation: the Role of Screen Time and the Number of Children in the Family

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Abstract

Reduced growth rates of working memory in pre-school children during periods of social isolation have previously been documented. However, the question of whether and how long it takes children to compensate for these deficits has remained open. The present study examined the longitudinal dynamics of verbal and visual working memory development in children between the age of 5  and 7  inclusive, taking into account home environment factors such as the duration of screen time during the pandemic and the number of children in the family. Screen time during social isolation was reported to range from 2 to 44 hours per week. The general pattern of development of verbal and visual working memory during this period was a natural increase, independent of screen time and number of children in the family. However, as the screen time increased, both the actual level of development of verbal working memory at each diagnostic cut-off and the rate of its development as the child grew older decreased. The most pronounced negative impact on verbal working memory development from extended screen time was reported among only children in the family. Continued use of digital devices led not just to a slower rate of development of verbal working memory, but to a temporary regression of it. Children in this part of the sample were able to compensate for the regression in verbal working memory development and catch up with their peers only after returning to a systematic educational process in resumed kindergartens.

General Information

Keywords: developmental psychology, cultural-historical approach, verbal working memory, visual working memory, screen time, siblings, social isolation

Journal rubric: Empirical and Experimental Research

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21638/spbu16.2023.307

Funding. This work was supported by the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for state support of young Russian scientists MК-1953.2022.2.

Received: 22.04.2023

Accepted:

For citation: Gavrilova M.N., Chichinina E.A. Work Memory Development Dynamics in Children Aged 5 to 7 in a Period of Social Isolation: the Role of Screen Time and the Number of Children in the Family. Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Psychology, 2023. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 396–410. DOI: 10.21638/spbu16.2023.307. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

References

Abakumova, I. V., Godunov, M. V., Golubova, V. M. (2019). Theoretical approaches towards the study of uncertainty effects in the process of personality development meaning regulation. Russian Psychological Journal, 16 (3), 59–71. https://doi.org/10.21702/rpj.2019.3.5 (In Russian)

Information About the Authors

Margarita N. Gavrilova, PhD in Psychology, Junior Researcher of the Department of Psychology of Education and Pedagogy of the Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8458-5266, e-mail: gavrilovamrg@gmail.com

Elena A. Chichinina, Junior Researcher of the Department of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7220-9781, e-mail: alchichini@gmail.com

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