Screen Literacy - Peek-a-Boo Replay

Delivery Method: 

Two infants, a boy in blue and a girl in red, discover the joy of disappearing and re-appearing on opposite sides of a climb-through tunnel. First, think from the girl’s perspective. She stoops down, the ready position. If the boy is also down, she does not pop up. She looks through the tunnel, and when she sees that he has risen to a standing position, she pops up with a squeal, as if she appreciates how he can see her re-appear and how he might be surprised. Her squeal gives emphasis to the, “Here I am.” When the boy stoops down, so does the girl, as if to mark the beginning of the second round. Again she waits until he has risen to a full stand before she pops up with her squeal. Her hands slip off the tunnel, and she catches herself inside the tunnel, but shows no interest in crawling through. One more round ends the peek-a-boo episode before the video shifts to later in the afternoon, when the boy watches this same episode on the computer screen.

From the boy’s perspective, we are not sure if he is stooping down just to look at the girl through the tunnel or if he is stooping down so he can pop up. When the girl stoops we feel more comfortable speculating that this action is preparatory for popping up, because she waits until the boy is standing so he can see her re-appear. The boy could be signaling the girl to stoop by stooping himself. He could be signaling her to pop up by standing tall. Such intentions would imply that he is engaged in the dialogic of a good rule-based conversation of actions. But his standing action does not look like a signal to the girl since he pops up with great energy himself. And since he pops up even when the girl is not standing, his actions do not seem to be an attempt to surprise anyone. Perhaps the change of view intrigues him.

In the second segment of this video we have divided the screen into a replay of the peek-a-boo episode in the background and on the lower left we see a clip of the boy looking at this same episode on a computer screen. We see the boy stoop several times while he looks at the peek-a-boo episode on the computer. By listening carefully to the sound track that comes from the computer, we were able to synchronize the action of the boy while watching with the action of what he is watching on the computer. You probably smiled when you saw him dip below the table top, knowing that he was imitating himself or the girl in the video. What significance can we attribute to his behavior?

We know that children this young can imitate simple actions, such as hand movements that accompany a song. But here we have shrunk the real episode into a video window about 8 inches by 6 inches. Furthermore, this video is a replay of actions performed by the child a few hours earlier. We have no way of knowing if he recognizes this image as his own, but when you see how he reaches toward the screen, you might think he is relating to this image in a personal manner. We can give the boy credit for spontaneously repeating the game without the strength of the young girl’s physical presence. We can call his actions evidence of “screen literacy,” that is, this pre-verbal child finds implication for action by “reading” the screen. Furthermore, he re-enacts the game without adult suggestion. Bravo!