The importance of parental responsiveness

My daughter and her first encounter with the periodic table

My daughter is already one year old.

She is really curious about the world around her and we try to stimulate her in any way.

So, I became curious, about how the learning process is affected by the active role of parents.

Several studies highlighted the importance of parents’ responsiveness for the language development in children. Parental responsiveness supports children’s understanding of the use of language as a way to communicate and have social interactions. Contingency, multimodality and didactic content of parents’ responsiveness help children to map their surroundings and growth their vocabulary.

Parental responsiveness has an impact not only on language acquisition, but also on psychological, social and emotional development and physical growth.

A study from Asok and collaborators suggested that parental responsiveness has a role even on the length of telomere.

Telomeres are the final part of the chromosomes. They protect the chromosome from deterioration, but at every cell cycle, they shorten a bit. When we are old our telomeres are significantly shorter than when we were young.

Telomeres and their function

Asok studied the length of telomeres of children who had or had not responsive parents. Children with responsive parents had longer telomeres, suggesting important implications of paternal responsiveness for children’s health.

The link between childcare, development and health is very strong. The better the responsiveness, the better the outcomes.

So, my humble suggestion to all parents and caregivers out there is to be responsive. Observe what your children do and stimulate them.

They will thank you in a few years.


Asok et al., “Parental Responsiveness Moderates the Association Between Early-life Stress and Reduced Telomere Length”, (2013), 10.1017/S0954579413000011

Eshel et al., “Responsive parenting: interventions and outcomes“, (2006),

Landry et al., “Responsive parenting: Establishing early foundations for social, communication, and independent problem-solving skills”, (2006),

Tamis-LeMonda et al., “Why Is Infant Language Learning Facilitated by Parental Responsiveness?”, (2014),

Women in STEM: Daria

Daria with her favorite books

My 36th guest is Daria, a semiotician, studying how AI suggestions influence human cognition, and an advocate for science and education.

Hi @daria.d.ark! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

Hi! My name is Daria, and I am a researcher in Semiotics. I am currently working on PhD project focusing on AI suggestions influence in Social Networks on human cognition. In other words, I research how we make decisions in digital era. I have MA in journalism and was working as journalist for several years in Russia. But I was always passionate about science. I think I can do better for this world as a researcher. I got my other MA at University of Tartu and now I am doing my PhD and proactively advocate for science and education.

When did you start your YouTube account? How did you get the idea?

I stated my YouTube channel UN PÒ D’ARIA SHOW 2 years ago and my main goal is popularization of Semiotics for general public. I wanted to show that everyone can use semiotics to make their every day better.

Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life? 

I met my now husband got the first time during Erasmus exchange program in Tartu, Estonia. Then we met again when I was doing my second MA degree and he was doing his PhD. We both semioticians and we work a lot, but try to keep balance between life and work. Our work is our passion so we enjoy it a lot.

Daria and her husband

During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?

During my MA studies in University of Tartu we had similar amount of men and women. I guess new selection criteria in European universities based on equality create significant influence.

Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?

I had these episodes only while working in Russian academia. Some professors might have do a joke pointing out the fact that women’s path is to get married or that women cannot be as good as men in science. But never faced any gender-based discrimination in Europe.

How did you become passionate about science? 

My mom was very encouraging since I was a kid. She bought all the books about physics, cosmology, geography and biology for me and my brother. And we loved to read them and go to local library to find new ones. Later during my Erasmus in Estonia I became very passionate about the works of Lotman and then read all his works. This how I came in Semiotics.

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

I am researching on human decision making in AI recommendations context, or in simple how AI recommendations influence our cognition while we using social media.

Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?

I would repeat the words of Hawking saying that one should be never scared to ask interesting questions and make curious hypothesis. It’s better to be proven wrong than not asking at all.

Follow Daria on Instagram, Twitter and on YouTube

Daria enjoying her free time

The worst year to be alive

Northern lights, Milky Way and erupting volcano. Source:

You are probably thinking that it is 2020, right?

Well, even if 2020 is a particularly shitty year, 536 was definitely worst!

According to dr. McCormick 536 was the worst year to be alive. Starting from 536, and for 18 months, Europeans and Asians did not see the sun: a fog obscured the Sun, which brightness was similar to the one of the moon. During the summer of 536 snow fell in China and millions of people died because of famine in the following years. In 541 the bubonic plague spread rapidly, killing one third of the human population.

By analyzing ice from a Swiss glacier, scientists figured out what happened more than 15 centuries ago. In 536, a great volcanic eruption happened in Iceland. The eruption released huge amount of dust into the atmosphere, which obscured the sun. When things started to improve, two other eruptions happened in 540 and 547, slowing down the recovery of normal seasons.

The study of ice revealed also that this dark period led to economic stagnation until 640. Ice slices from that year where rich in lead. Silver mining resumed, and silver was smelted from lead ore, indicating a recovery of the medieval economic system.

Personally, I think that science is awesome! How cool is that by studying ice from a Swiss glacier, scientists can understand what happened 1500 years ago?!

This research has also made me think about the impact of human activities on nature (see a previous article here). Nature and ice register everything, even after 1500 years, and without written evidence, we can know exactly in which year the economic start recovering because of human activities releasing lead into the atmosphere.


Loveluck et al., “Alpine ice-core evidence for the transformation of the European monetary system, AD 640–670”, (2018),

Gibbons, “Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’”, (2018) , 10.1126/science.aaw0632

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