While adults are good at paying attention to what you tell them, children notice everything and hence are better at grasping new things, say researchers.
A study published in the journal Developmental Psychology shows that children tend to distribute their attention broadly, while adults use selective attention to focus on information they believe is most important.
According to the researchers, distributing attention may be adaptive for young children, and by being attentive to everything, they gather more information which helps them learn more.
The research suggests that this difference can actually help kids do better than adults in some learning situations.
For the study, 34 adults and 36 four-year-old children were analysed. Researchers provided adults and the children information that was irrelevant at the beginning of the experiment but suddenly becomes important for a task they had to complete.
“Adults had a hard time readjusting because they didn’t learn the information they thought wouldn’t be important,” said Vladimir Sloutsky, Professor at The Ohio State University in the US.
“Children, on the other hand, recovered quickly to the new circumstances because they weren’t ignoring anything. I’m sure a lot of parents will recognize that tendency of children to notice everything, even when you wish they wouldn’t,” he said.