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UW looking for kids to volunteer in series of studies

They're looking at how kids interact with each other remotely

A series of studies at the University of Waterloo have had to shift their direction thanks to the pandemic, and they're looking for volunteers.

Psychology researchers are looking at how kids navigate their social environments according to professor Elizabeth Nilsen, which have now become remote for many local students.

"We had started testing in schools last year, then there were some delays because of the strikes," said Nilsen. "Now we can't run them because we want to make sure that it's a safe environment for families, so we've had to transition them by not having live kids together, but have them participate remotely with a virtual peer."

Nilsen said the main hypothesis of the studies is that children with good cognitive (thinking and reasoning) skills are better able to navigate social situations. They're trying to figure out if kids are at-risk for lagging behind socially if their cognitive skills are not as refined, then finding ways to bolster cognition.

"The researchers are a group of students who have been very much impacted by this, and are hoping the community can support so they can keep going in meeting their academic progression, as well as learning more about the ways that we can help children," said Nilsen.

Nilsen also works as a child psychologist.

"I've worked with lots of kids. You see that with a number of challenges, in terms of mental health, that there's a social component to that. Sometimes it can be that social component that is the most debilitating aspect of the disorder, even if it's not part of the diagnostic criteria itself. A lot of time is spent working with kids on figuring out how they can move through their life in an effective way. What that means is how they're able to connect, understand, and get their needs met through communication with those around them: peers, teachers, parents."

The school is looking for children aged 4 to 12 years. If you're interested in participating, email


Ben Eppel

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