A new study has found that kids' ability to describe past incidences develops with age.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Yael Orbach at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the University of Cambridge.
As part of the study, researchers analyzed forensic interviews of 250, 4 to 10-year-old kids who were alleged victims of sexual abuse, focusing on the kinds of references to time they made when describing these real-life events.
Researchers found that the children made increasing numbers of references to time-related characteristics of experienced events as they grew older. Witnesses under 10 seldom mentioned specific times or dates, or what happened before reported events or actions but there was a dramatic increase to such references at the age of 10.
The study noted that children remembered the times of past events by making references to clock times, events that occurred in the same time frame, or the calendar.
While older children were capable of using both short- and long-scale time patterns (such as time of day and day of the month), younger children mostly referred to short-scale time patterns (such as time of day), or they anchored the events to familiar activities (such as "when I returned from school").
"By helping forensic interviewers to recognize children's capabilities and limitations, our findings may also encourage interviewers to seek essential temporal information using age-appropriate techniques," Orbach said.
The findings of the study were published in the July/August issue of the journal Child Development.