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Study: Preschoolers Better At Figuring Out How Gadgets Work Than College Students

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File photo of preschool children in a classroom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

File photo of preschool children in a classroom. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A recent study revealed that preschool-age children are better at figuring out how to use technological gadgets than college students.

CBS News is reporting that researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, tasked 106 children between the ages of 4 and 5 and 170 college students with figuring out how to use a gadget with which they had no prior experience.

The gadget worked by placing different clay shapes in special boxes to determine which combination would cause a box to light up and play music.

Ultimately, the younger children were reportedly much faster at figuring out the correct combination, CBS News learned.

“The kids got it. They figured out that the machine might work in this unusual way and so that you should put both blocks on together,” senior study author Alison Gopnik was quoted as saying in a column last week for The Wall Street Journal. “But the best and brightest [college] students acted as if the machine would always follow the common and obvious rule, even when we showed them that it might work differently.”

Researchers involved in the study said the results raised questions regarding “what makes children more flexible learners.”

“[A]re they just free from the preconceptions that adults have, or are they fundamentally more flexible or exploratory in how they see the world?” Christopher Lucas, study co-author and a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a press release obtained by CBS News.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta generally recommend, however, that children step away from their gadgets and engage in more physical activity.

“Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes … or more of physical activity each day,” the CDC website notes. “This may sound like a lot, but don’t worry! Your child may already be meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”

The site continued: “Encourage your child to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and offer variety!”

The study will be published this May in the journal Cognition.

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