Human development and family studies major Lauren Lomas, a Schreyer Honors Scholar, has become one of only eight Penn State students from across the Commonwealth selected to showcase their research in Harrisburg at the 13th annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol - Pennsylvania (URC - PA) conference.
Set for March 3, the poster session conference allows undergraduate students enrolled in Pennsylvania's universities and colleges to present their exceptional research projects to Pennsylvania's key state legislators. Lomas will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with legislators, as well as participate in the poster session. She becomes only the fifth Penn State Brandywine student selected for this significant honor in the campus' history.
Her poster presentation, titled "Impact of Technology on the Parent-Child Dyad and Self-Regulation," highlights the research she has conducted over the past nine months alongside Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Jennifer Zosh, Lomas' faculty research mentor.
"We're looking at two questions," explained Zosh. "How does the parent-child interaction change when playing with one type of toy versus another and does the type of toy children play with impact their ability to regulate their own behavior?"
During the study, Lomas video records parents and children playing with traditional toys (such as building blocks) or electronic toys (such as an iPad). She then goes back and watches the sessions to determine whether the type of toy the parent and child play with impacts the parent-child interaction.
In the second part of the study, Lomas places a snack in front of the child and offers the choice to either eat the snack now, or wait for several minutes and in return be rewarded with two snacks. The team will examine whether the type of toy children played with impacts their later ability to regulate their own behavior and wait for the second snack.
"This research is really meeting a need that we're seeing," Zosh said. "Technology changes quickly but research hasn't quite caught up yet. We don't know exactly how technology use impacts children."
"The goal of this research is to inform the community and parents on how technology might be impacting parent-child relationships and children in general," Lomas added.
Lomas and Zosh conduct their research study at Penn State Brandywine's Child Development Lab, the Middletown Free Library in Media and the Delaware Children's Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.
"Seeing Lauren grow as a researcher and a scholar has been a tremendous experience," Zosh said. "A smaller campus like Brandywine can more easily afford students the opportunity for this type of growth."
Lomas hopes to present her work on April 14 at Brandywine's annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research Enterprise and Creative Accomplishment (EURECA), a showcase granting Brandywine undergraduates the opportunity to share their research with the campus community and community members.