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Comment & Response
October 2014

Infants and Interactive Media Use—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle, Washington

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(10):969-970. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.748

In Reply In their letter published in JAMA Pediatrics, Strasburger et al allege that screens are screens, an assertion that overlooks the scientific consensus that content drives media effects.1 To wit, let me start with an example of infant touchscreen usage that we might all agree is acceptable, an 8-month-old infant with an e-reader. This hardly seems farfetched. Electronic book sales now surpass paper sales on Amazon and e-books offer several advantages.2 They are less expensive and can be delivered (or even borrowed) electronically, which means that low-income parents might have greater access to them by dint of cost and convenience, especially as tablets continue to drop in price. Furthermore, e-books could even be designed to prompt dialogic reading, which has been shown to improve children’s language acquisition more so than reading alone.3 Or how about (apropos of Strutz) an 18-month-old who Skypes with her mother who is deployed in Afghanistan? Are we really to say that this screen usage is to be avoided because of suspected harm or the absence of proven benefits because screens are screens?