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Research Letter
August 10, 2020

Saliency-Driven Visual Search Performance in Toddlers With Low– vs High–Touch Screen Use

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, London, England
  • 2Biostatistics and Health Informatics Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, England
  • 3University of East Anglia, Norwich, England
JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 10, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.2344

During toddlerhood, a peak period of neurocognitive development, increased exposure to sensory stimulation through touch screen use, may influence developing attentional control.1 While TV’s rapidly changing, noncontingent flow of sensory information has been hypothesized to lead to difficulties voluntarily focusing attention,2 video gaming’s contingent and cognitively demanding sensory environments may improve visual processing and attention.3 Toddler touch screen use involves both exogenous attention, driven by salient audio-visual features, and endogenous/voluntary control, eg, video selection and app use.4,5

The current study compared high– and low–touch screen users on a gaze-contingent visual search paradigm,6 assessing exogenous, saliency-based attention (single-feature trials), and endogenous attention control (conjunction trials).

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