Why All Parents Should Take Their Child to Participate in a Study

In the last couple of weeks (and a couple of weeks to come, it looks like) I have been working on getting my research off the ground. The amount of work is remarkable. Granted, some researchers have to breed and raise their own participants. I think there are pros and cons to this approach. On the negative side, it takes longer to prepare for a study; on the positive side, you don’t have to get the rats’ parents to agree to participate.

Which brings me to my point: all parents should take their child to participate in a study. I know, you are really busy, and the laundry is not going to fold itself. I know, by the time you get to work you have already made breakfasts, packed lunches, got everyone dressed and brushed and ready to go, and you are well into your day before other people even had their first morning coffee.

Here is why you (the parent reading this) should take the time to consider the studies done in your community and to take your child to participate in one.

First, you don’t always have to literally take your child. Sometimes the researchers come to you. Sometimes they want you to fill some questionnaires, and they don’t even want to see the child.

Second, it’s good karma. Really. Think of it as a random act of kindness. Why is this a kindness? Because the graduate student who is spending hours on end calling daycares and science museums and kid coffee shops, distributing brochures in every community centre, and basically begging everyone she meets to participate in her study will be grateful.

Third, and most importantly, science matters. Take my research for example. At first glance you might think: another theoretical research, this has no implication on my life. But I’m looking into children’s ability to consider different aspects of events or objects, which can easily be tied into being creative. So if my research is successful (and by successful I don’t mean has the results I want it to have, I mean has enough participants to determine any kind of results), other researchers who are working in the field might come up with, say, a curriculum that promotes creativity. So that your child will have a better (or at least better-informed) curriculum, a better school experience, and a better life. OK, I may have taken it a tiny bit too far in the end there, but that’s the general idea.

In order for science to move forward, experiments must get done. For developmental research, this means children must participate in experiments, because if we are to learn things about kids, we have to learn them from the kids. So go on, find a study in your community, and get going. As a bonus, you might learn something about yourself and about your child in the process.

Have you ever participated in a study yourself? Have you ever taken your child? Please share your experience!

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