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Join the Children Helping Science Relaunch -- Your new, improved hub for online developmental research

  • 1.  Join the Children Helping Science Relaunch -- Your new, improved hub for online developmental research

    Posted 05-01-2023 08:17

    Dear Colleagues,

    It's hard to believe, but we are coming up on the three year anniversary of Children Helping Science - a website we launched at the start of the pandemic to enable researchers around the world to post developmental studies online and provide a common population base for recruiting participants for developmental research. 

    In the meantime, we have been working to build infrastructure that can support remote studies in the long term - not as a pandemic stopgap, but as a fundamental addition to the methodological toolkit of the developmental sciences. 

    We are writing now with an important update -- and an important request.

    On May 25th, we are going to shut down the old Children Helping Science site and complete a merger and migration we began last Fall to bring a new, improved version of Children Helping Science to the Lookit platform. An updated version of the current Lookit site will be available at, replacing the old Children Helping Science site.

    All the functionality previously available on the old Children Helping Science site has been preserved, and you can continue to direct participants to a landing page for each of your own studies.

    Many additional functions are now possible. In particular:

    • ~10,000 families are already on the platform. You can recruit from them immediately.

    • When you bring your existing online study to the platform, it will be approved and posted within three business days. Once a study is posted, you can pause, re-start and take down your own studies without waiting for a moderator. 

    • You can launch both moderated video studies (scheduled, researcher present) and automated, asynchronous studies (no experimenter present)

    • You can target recruitment toward your population of interest, with automatic filters for exact age, languages spoken, and other criteria (e.g. "Multiple-birth children either under 1 year or over 3 years of age")

    • There is a thriving Slack community of researchers who peer review each other's work and share strategies for successful online studies. There is no comparable online space for collaboratively developing attractive, rigorous, remote studies for children.  

    We have also added a number of features that make the new Children Helping Science platform more user-friendly and encourage families to keep engaging with the site:

    • Families will only need to sign up once for an account and their information (including the demographic information families provide) will be shared with researchers when they access a new study. 

    • Families will be able to see what studies are available for their specific children and track which studies they have completed. 

    • Families will automatically receive emails notifying them when studies for their children become available -- helping you with recruitment.

    Here's what we are asking of all of you in the field: If you are currently running any online studies, please also add them to the new Children Helping Science site. 

    If you belong to any of the ~100 institutions already on the site  you will be able to have any existing study ready to post in 15 minutes or less. If your institution isn't already listed, we can help you out. 

    Here is everything you need to know to have your study ready to post.

    Why join the relaunched Children Helping Science platform?

    As noted, there are currently ~10,000 families enrolled on the new platform. All of these families are interested in developmental research and the children range from infants to adolescents. We can imagine a future where we could expand that to 100,000 families.

    But to do that, we need content -- from everyone in the field. Families are interested in the research we do, but they need to know there will always be new studies available for their children. That takes all of us.

    Having a stable flow of studies will prepare for our next stage: advertising the site as a whole, and attracting additional external funding to support the platform.

    Any energy you invest in recruiting participants for your own study through the platform will benefit your study first and foremost, but they will also benefit the field as a whole -- and your studies will benefit from the recruitment efforts of others.

    Critically -- you can continue to advertise and post your studies on any other platform or site you like. Please just also consider posting to Children Helping Science. It will not limit any additional outreach you do, and it will give you ready access to thousands of interested participants.

    This relaunch of Children Helping Science, merged with the Lookit platform, will allow us, as scientists, to build a broad, diverse, participant pool -- and also allow us to greatly expand families' access to science. The platform is open source, and, like the old one, free to all users.

    To help researchers working through how to share their studies, Melissa Kline Struhl (Lookit Executive Director) will hold open meeting hours over Zoom on May 18th from 8am-11am EDT and May 22nd from 2pm-5pm EDT. Please feel free to swing by if you have questions, or email her at to set up a time to meet. 

    Finally, we are thinking about other ways to make Children Helping Science a wonderful resource for researchers and for families. We will share more information in the upcoming months for other ways that researchers can get involved. 

    Please join us, and thank you for all your support and engagement since the pandemic!

    All the best,

    The Parent and Researcher Collaborative

    Elizabeth Bonawitz, Hyowon Gweon, Julian Jara-Ettinger, Candice Mills, Marjorie Rhodes, Mark Sheskin, and Laura Schulz and Melissa Kline Struhl (Lookit PI and Lookit Executive Director)

    [Laura] [Schulz]
    [Associate Department Head
    Professor of Cognitive Science]
    [Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT]
    [Cambridge] [MA]