Dressing up as Batman, Dora the Explorer or other heroes helps four- to six-year-olds concentrate on a task and resist the distraction of technology, writes Jenny Anderson on Quartz.
Researchers asked young children to do a boring computer task for 10 minutes, but told them they could play a game on an iPad if they got bored.
The 180 kids were assigned to one of three conditions: a control group, which asked the children to think about their thoughts and feelings as they went through the task and ask themselves “Am I working hard?” The second group was asked to think of themselves in the third-person, for example (if the kid’s name is Hannah), “Is Hannah working hard?”
In the third condition, the kids were asked to think about someone else who is really good at working hard. They could pick from some well-known superhero types: Batman, Bob the Builder, Rapunzel, and Dora the Explorer. The kids got to dress up as the character they picked and then were asked, “Is Batman working hard?”
Overall, the children spent 63 percent of their time playing on the iPad and 37 percent working on the task, writes Anderson. “But those kids pretending to be superheroes ‘worked’ more than those who thought of themselves in the third person, and both of those groups did better than the kids who just thought of themselves as ‘me’.”