Through the Screen: A Cozy Talk on Interactive Media

On August 4th, CMA hosted Danny LaBrecque of Danny Joe’s TreeHouse for a run through of interactive methods of media in an exceptionally cozy video event. Given his background in early childhood development, LaBrecque spoke on the subconscious process that children go through to process events and how beneficial interactive methods can be in supporting this process.

He spoke on his independent research with the Fred Rogers Center in 2014 where he learned more about existing interactive media. A major component of his findings was the power of interacting with young viewers through a screen rather than simply distracting them. Approaches like direct questions in interactive shows gave Danny inspiration for his own show’s format, where he allows kids the opportunity to steer the narrative of the episode to better deal with life topics they may be facing. Danny also spoke on how focusing on the children’s experience isn’t the only solution, and emphasized his belief that, “If you wanna focus on the child, you have to find your own center.” 

This idea led perfectly into the event’s group activity. Danny led the group through an activity involving the glass of a picture frame, colored markers, and their own zoom cameras. The attendees traced their own facial features while looking at their reflection in the glass AND the zoom video squares of others. Danny explained that the exercise would help us learn to connect with ourselves first (our reflection in the glass) before focusing on others (the other zoom squares). The attendees continued to add more and more details to their facial drawings, which Danny explained as allowing their subconscious to take over during a simple task allowing for healthy unconscious processing. 

Danny’s integration of interaction through the screen is a very interesting system that I hope will nudge creators to re-evaluate their content to better help children’s process the world around them.