How Infants Use Their Hands: Citizen Science in Psychology
We are researchers in the School of Psychology at University College Dublin in Ireland, funded by the European Commission, Horizon 2020, studying how infants use their hands. If you are the parent of a child between six and sixteen months of age (or have saved videos of your child in this age range), we would be delighted if you shared your videos with us as a Citizen Scientist.
Psychologists typically study infant behaviour in research laboratories, but those unfamiliar surroundings do not reflect a child’s day to day experience and babies can be shy in the presence of strangers. We are therefore looking to study infants’ hand use in their own homes where they are comfortable and where the toys and household objects are familiar to them. We know that parents of babies/ toddlers may already have lots of videos of their children on their phones. These videos are very valuable to science, which is why are adopting a Citizen Science approach to our research.
We are specifically looking for videos in which babies and toddlers are using their hands, for example playing with toys or feeding themselves. We have a couple of Guidelines for Videos. The best videos for our purposes will have the following features:
(1) the video will show only one baby and it will have been filmed in your home. For ethical reasons, we cannot accept videos with more than one baby, a different baby to the one you provided consent for, videos of parents/ guardians, nor can we accept videos filmed in a public place.
(2) the baby will be in the centre of the screen, facing the camera
(3) the baby will have at least two objects around them, that they can reach (or try to reach). These could be toys, household objects, or anything else your baby could touch or hold.
You do not need to film anything new for us but you are welcome to film something according to these guidelines if you like. Videos can be of any length but we suggest that they are no longer than 30 seconds because bigger files take a long time to upload.
Infancy is a period of remarkable motoric development. As early as 6 months infants can reach for and grasp a toy and by 16 months or so toddlers can use their hands to drink from a cup and eat with a spoon. We are interested in how hand use develops, in how babies coordinate their right and left hands, and when they show a consistent preference for using their right or left hand.
- We encourage parents to reframe a typical activity – taking videos of their baby to share with friends – as scientifically valuable. While we guide parents to record new data, we are aware of how challenging (timewise!) it can be for new parents to engage in research. Please think of videos you have already taken as “data”.
- We are asking Citizen Scientists to:
(a) Conduct research with respect to ethical guidelines: there are specific requirements as to what and what cannot be included in a video.
(b) We use our website to provide example of activities that parents could record. We are open to novel activities they may provide us with.
(c) We provide guidance to the ideal empirical set-up needed. As citizen scientists, participating parents need to consider the angle from which they make the video recordings on their phones. They also need to ensure that the infants have a variety everyday toys and objects within their reach, but at multiple locations, so that we can study the infant’s choice of hand to use.
(d) We provide examples of activities and camera angles on our website and we maintain a careful watch on incoming emails to answer questions citizen scientists may have. In time, we hope to use the site to post any helpful comments they may have
How to participate
If you would like to participate you can upload short videos of your infant or toddler (between the ages of 6 months and 16 months) playing with toys, using their hands to eat, or simply using their hands to pick up and hold objects. These videos will be uploaded to a secure folder that only the researchers working on this project have access to. By clicking on this link (https://www.ucdperceptionmotorcog.com/participate-in-our-research), you will be brought to our website where we explain they types of videos we are interested in and importantly how we ensure safe storage of the videos while we extract data about infants’ hand use. In order to participate, you will fill out a consent form. Within a few days, after we have checked your form, you will receive an email from us. In this email, we will give you a short randomised code so we can identify your video, and a link to an online form that you can use to upload your video.
You will need access to an internet-connected phone, tablet, or computer to upload short videos to our secure folder. If you take and store videos of your child on your phone, uploading using your phone might be the most convenient option. As the system approved by our university for the storage of personal data is provided via a Google platform, you will also need a Google account, such as an @gmail.com email address, or a workplace-based Google account to access our video upload system.
Funding bodies: European ComissionHorizon 2020
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In your home