Vir­tu­al in-time data col­lec­tion with child participants

Sylvia Gat­tas, Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford


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As expe­ri­enced over 2020 and 2021 glob­al­ly, acces­si­ble data acqui­si­tion is vital for reach­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive pop­u­la­tions. While adult online data acqui­si­tion has a long­stand­ing basis, child online data acqui­si­tion has been lim­it­ed, espe­cial­ly if unsu­per­vised. Implic­it mea­sures of atten­tion, such as those gath­ered via eye-track­ing, can bol­ster our under­stand­ing of the process­es under­pin­ning effi­cient and accu­rate respons­es, but they have been tied to the lab or expen­sive equip­ment. Addi­tion­al­ly, both adult and child web­cam-based eye-track­ing meth­ods cur­rent­ly avail­able have been dif­fi­cult to cal­i­brate. This has required re-cal­i­bra­tion after a small num­ber of tri­als thus pro­long­ing study par­a­digms in a way that is counter-pro­duc­tive for children. 

Final­ly, work­ing with chil­dren can pose some vari­able lim­i­ta­tions regard­ing ethics appli­ca­tions when using images or vir­tu­al safe­guard­ing. Con­se­quent­ly, we devel­oped and pilot­ed a method­ol­o­gy in which the child can have vir­tu­al in-time inter­ac­tion with the researcher in addi­tion to gaze-track­ing of spe­cif­ic tasks, pro­vid­ing direct feed­back on the child’s atten­tion, and reac­tion time and accu­ra­cy mea­sures. Here, we will dis­cuss eth­i­cal bar­ri­ers and how we over­came them with­in our insti­tu­tion, as well as the method­ol­o­gy for online behav­iour­al and web­cam eye-track­ing mea­sures, in addi­tion to pilot data.

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Vir­tu­al in-time data col­lec­tion with child participants