Connecting Worlds: Using digital tools to study child development in underdeveloped contexts


The vast majority of studies in child development are conducted in rich, developed countries. What do we really know of the rest (majority) of the world? Can we use innovative tools to know more about child development in underdeveloped contexts?

Would there be interest in a Special Topic meeting focusing on innovative ways to collect data (Social Media) as well as novel ways to interpret data (Big Data)? Would an interdisciplinary discussion about what is available, and what is currently being used, be of interest?

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I’m certainly interested in this. My lab has been using larger datasets to study variability in development for a while now. We also have recently been branching out into using social media as a forum for recruiting more diverse (US) participants. It would be great to convene a group interested in these sorts of methods so that we could create collaborations and exchange tips.

Off the top of my head, there would be interest from the DARCLE consortium (day long audio recordings, Melanie Soderstrom, Alex Cristia, Elika Bergelson, Anne Warlaumont and others) as well as the Lookit folks at MIT (Kim Scott and Laura Schulz). Sophie von Stumm also. Many more I am sure.

The challenge would be thinking of ways to bring together those developing technical methods and those interested in understudied populations in productive ways…


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Sure! I think the best way of doing that and achieving all the targets is to have a special topic meeting somewhere else than in the USA. Then we can have our feet on the ground and also learn how other populations in different countries share resources, learn methodology, and do research. Brazil 2020?

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Thanks Silvia, this is a great point. I believe that having the meeting outside of the USA will make the emphasis on different populations even stronger. And of course Brazil 2020 sounds wonderful :wink:

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I agree that a workshop outside of the United States, particularly on this topic, would be of interest to many SRCD members. This meeting would generate multidisciplinary and multi-method approaches to studying key issues in under-served populations globally.

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Hi. This is an exciting topic and there seems to be considerable interest. I do want to foreclose discussion of location, though: SRCD will be picking 1 city to host all the meetings & workshops (in order to negotiate a better rate and keep registration prices down). I’ll note the interest in non-US locations for future meetings, though.


I am glad to engage in this dialogue. Greetings from Guatemala. I would be highly interested in engaging in a dialogue about neurodevelopmental assessment, mothering/caregiving, and mental health in early childhood and preschool particularly underprivileged, stunted and groups living in poverty. While this is one of my areas of current interest, I am also involved in other research and intervention project relacted to school violence prevention, resilience, and community mental health

Hope there is interest. Best regards


This topic is important but I think it will be also important to avoid deficit thinking, to move it forward in a way that helps rather than undermining the people intended to be served. For example can the term ‘under’ developed be replaced with a term that does not assume lesser development? The assumptions of researchers often drive research in ways that get in the way of efforts to be helpful.

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I have no doubt of the importance of this Topic, but I just have one add to take in account for a meeting: What we can do if internet connection is scarce and limited in target-regional population? That is the case of many families with children in Colombia. I thought that not only electronic or digital technologies should be included. In those cases, and thinking in Big data analysis, recollection of information and digitalisation should be considered as two different but complementary steps in special cases for regional cover. I been using a printed booklet to get developmental screening information in a very low-income-families sample at Colombia, and after one month of observation, caregivers return the booklet and we (undergraduate, postgraduate students and PI) load up the information to electronic databases.

Please count with me in this topic.

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