Virtual Child Paper

Virtual Child is a computer program that allows you to parent a child from birth through age 18.  This program allows you to experience the influence of nature and nurture on children’s development.  In your paper discuss your initial thoughts on the influence of nature and nurture on a person’s development before you took this class.  Then comment on whether or not your views on the influence of nature and nurture changed as a result of Virtual Child.  To receive an A, papers must demonstrate application of your knowledge and experience to events presented in the computer program using psychological perspectives learned in this course.  To receive an A, papers must also give at least 3 specific examples from your Virtual Child parenting experience to illustrate your point, one of which MUST be from adolescence so I know that you have completed the Virtual Child interactive activity.   Papers are to be typed, double-spaced, 12 pt font, 1” margins all sides and no more than 4 pages long.

Topics Reading
Introduction/Class Overview
Ch. 1 History, Theory and Research Strategies

Ch. 2 Genetics and Environmental Foundations

Ch. 3 Prenatal Development

Ch. 4 Infancy and Toddlerhood

Ch. 5 Infancy and Toddlerhood

Ch. 6 Infancy and Toddlerhood

Special Guest – Mom and Infant

Quiz 1 – Infancy and Toddlerhood

Special Guest – Librarian: Writing a Research Paper
Ch. 7 Early Childhood

Ch. 8 Early Childhood

Ch.  9 Middle Childhood

Ch.10 Middle Childhood,

Quiz 2 – Early and Middle Childhood

Ch. 11 Adolescence

Ch. 12 Adolescence

Special Guest – Fairfax County Community Service Board

Ch. 13 Early Adulthood

Ch. 14 Early Adulthood, Virtual Child paper due




Berk, L.  E.  (2014).  Exploring lifespan development (3rd ed.).  Boston, MA:  Pearson.





Virtual Child (1st ed.).  (2008).   Pearson.  On-line Supplement . ISBN-10: 0136049346 | ISBN-13: 9780136049340

Initial thought on the influence of nature and nurture

Before this course, I was of the view that the influence of nature is of the utmost importance with a very negligible role played by nurture or the environment in the development of a human being from prenatal to late adulthood. But, I went through this course and learned different theories of development like Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, Erickson’s theory Sigmund Freud’s theory  and many more theories in class and my personal reading times, I came to realize that nurture may be of greater importance than I had really thought. Especially when I read the quote by J B Watson in which he has claimed that he can make any type of professional from a dozen of infants that are given in his supervision, I was astonished by the role played by the immediate environment and other nurture factors. If I am asked about my personal view point, I would say that the behavior of a human is a mix of both nature and nurture. We cannot deny the importance of what we get from our forefathers through our genes, neither can we deny what we learn from experience. Especially the role of nurture increases when we have children with neurological disorders like Autism and ADHD because they need a feasible environment to learn to live a normal life.

Views about nature and nurture after Virtual Child experience

I think that Virtual Child experience has provided me with an opportunity to learn about the various decisions that a parent has to make on daily basis. I had never realized that these decisions would be hundreds in number and may have such a great influence on the child’s development. A child may have inborn capacity to be better in some skills like mathematical or artistic skills than other children, but then it is the decisions and guidance of parents and teachers that would provide the child with an environment in which he/she can flourish these skills. For example a child may be really athletic due to natural characteristics and personality traits but the parents may force the child to become a doctor or an engineer instead of a successful athlete. This has made me think of becoming a better parent myself, a parent who is keen to know about the real interest of the child and then trying her best to provide the child an innovation and creative environment in which the child can flourish and reach to his/her full capacity and capabilities. That is what is evident when you go forward in the Virtual Child program. When you make harsh decisions, the child moves towards developing personality traits that are not desired by the parents. While moving forward in the Virtual Child program, you have to assess your decisions on each step and make major and minor adjustments.

Virtual Child experience and my knowledge and experience

My child’s name in the virtual child program was Ali. The primary observations that I would like to make here are about my decisions related to letting Ali to play with other children in the park at the age of 2. I can observe that Vidgotsky’s theory which encourages social interaction is an action here. This allowed Ali to become more acquainted with other children and learn to trust these children with allowing them to play with his toys.

At the age of 4 there are many instances of decisions that I made that has a great influence on how Ali behaves as a result. For example the decision to have a second child make Ali jealous. What I do in the next set of decisions that I have to make is let Ali handle it by himself with minimal interruption. This allows Ali to handle things by himself and start to behave normally. This points to both innate and learned traits by the child. Jealousy is something that is could be termed as a natural trait at an age of 4 while allowing the child to learn to adjust with the second child with a minimal interruption allows the child to explore the immediate environment and adjust by himself. Parental supervisions from a distance is really necessary.

At age 5 I was able to learn that all children are not the same or equal in learning in different skills. Ali was also different with unique characteristics and individual differences than other children. For example, I came to know that Ali was good with numbers. This provided me with an opportunity to let him learn about mathematical skills.

At age 6, Ali was already forming peer bonds at his school with other children. This was a good sign as children may need to rely on one another to perform some tasks. There is a bit of ego-centrism seen in Ali at this age but I think that was normal as according to the Preoperational Stage of Piaget’s theory, there is not yet a concrete logic developed. This can be seen going away in the later stages of the childhood and are mostly vanished at the age of 11.

According to psychologist, at the age of 8, Ali seemed to shine in mathematics. This was a great sign as this is what I expected and I had longed to see. The psychologist has some test suggestions like visual-spatial ability in which Ali showed great results. Ali has developed to be a social child and is surely going to become a good adolescent.

At an age of 12, there are physical signs of Ali’s puberty. Ali also seem to take interest in opposite six which means he would want to have a girlfriend very soon. This is what actually what happens at an age of 15. As a female from a conservative society, I did not have great feelings about Ali having a girlfriend at this early age, even if it was a Virtual Kid. But I let him do whatever he wants so that he can move on to his adulthood in good shape.

From an age of 15 to 18, I was able to see changes that were primarily out of my control and may have been caused by natural selection or random environment. For example, Ali was extraordinarily social which is not what I would really want my kid to be. I am from a conservative environment. Irrespective of the fact that I allowed Ali to have social relations, I wasn’t expecting this much.

Over all speaking, this was a great exercise. What I would conclude from the Virtual Child experience is that we must plan before having a baby. I had to just sat down and do the exercise out of nowhere which contributed to me being confused at different stages about what decisions to make. A man and a female must set together and have family meetings before and after the child is born to enable the child have a safe and sound physical and psychological environment and pass through all the developmental stages efficiently and effectively.