Research on children’s cognitive development has demonstrated the positive effects of listening to stories. However, traditional story listening is losing its appeal to other entertainment technology such as video games. Hence, there is growing interest in studying the influence of ancillary media such as sound and interactive effects, although haptic sensory input has remained relatively unexploited. We implemented a haptic vest that generates vibrotactile stimulation related to story content to augment story listening. Study 1 showed that 5- and 6-year olds, but not 4-year olds, could associate haptic effects with semantic interpretations. In Study 2, children listened to stories containing elements with or without haptic effects. The 5- and 6-year olds showed better comprehension of the haptically-signaled content in the higher-performance story. The results provide initial evidence that haptic effects can potentially enhance the reading/listening experience of children beyond 4 years.
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