Kids Don’t Understand Sarcasm Until Age 6

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Dry sense of humor? Don't plan on getting any laughs from your kids for a few years.

According to a new study, kids younger than age 6 just don't understand irony or sarcasm. Canadian researchers concluded that it's not until age 10 or 11 that they stop taking everything so literally.

These findings are important to remember when chatting with young children or even "irony-impaired" adults. Although kids might eventually come to use and comprehend this type of language, many adults never fully develop the sarcasm radar. "You really see that they respond appropriately to this language in conversation," Holly E. Recchia, the lead author of the report, tells The Times. "That's not the same as saying they can explain their understanding explicitly."

As children get older and learn their style of communication, many develop snarky attitudes, which parents tend to see negatively. Although it's true that sarcasm ("Well thanks a lot!")  is used more heavily than understanding ("I'm a little mad at you right now"), the irony is not all bad.

"Parents tend to view ironic language negatively, but it's not always negative or nasty," Recchia tells the newspaper. "Sometimes it's quite playful. It may be that humor and irony can help to defuse situations that might otherwise cause conflict. It may be an effective tool."

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