WASHINGTON, DC – Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development announced a $300,000 grant to an interdisciplinary team of experts to address critical gaps in research examining the nuances of parent device use during early infancy and the potential impact of different types and amounts of use in the moment and over time on parents and infants.

The interdisciplinary team of investigators includes: Brandon T. McDaniel, PhD (Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, Parkview Health), Alison K. Ventura, PhD (California Polytechnic State University), Lara N. Wolfers, PhD (University of Amsterdam), Sarah M. Coyne, PhD (Brigham Young University), and Adam M. Galovan, PhD (University of Alberta).

“Children and Screens is thrilled to support this groundbreaking research which will shed light on one of the most salient questions related to digital media and parenting today,” said Kris Perry, Executive Director of Children and Screens. “How does parental phone use in early infancy impact the social and emotional development of children? Ultimately, the findings will allow for improved guidance to parents and caregivers regarding healthy phone use within the caregiving environment,” said Perry.”

The unique two-year study (called Project EMBRACE – Everyday Mother-Baby Relations and Cellphone Engagement) examines both the short and long term positive and negative effects of parent phone use on infant behavior and outcomes. The researchers plan to follow 150 mothers and infants using a longitudinal ecological momentary assessment design to investigate whether moment-to-moment disruptions in parenting due to phone use—especially if frequent—lead to long-term consequences for infant development. 

“Parenting in those early months looks different now than it did 15 years ago – or even five or ten years ago,” said Dr. Brandon McDaniel. “Much of the research that’s out there, although important, has looked at this with broad brush strokes, often showing that infant development might be impacted by parent device use; yet, we do not know whether and when effects of small moments of parent smartphone use may linger, dissipate, grow, or even show no meaning at all, especially over the long-term (e.g., months). We are excited about the potential of this study to begin to answer some of these questions for mother phone use, mother-infant interaction, and infant socio-emotional development.”

The grant is part of Children and Screens’ Interdisciplinary Research Grants Program which provides funding, on a competitive basis, to support cutting-edge scientific research projects that advance our knowledge and understanding of digital media and child development. The program is intended to deliver preliminary funds to interdisciplinary, interinstitutional research teams so that they may gain the results necessary to apply and compete for major funding from traditional funding sources. For more information, e-mail


Children and Screens: Institute for Digital Media and Child Development is an independent 501(c)3 organization working to help children lead healthy lives in a digital world. The Institute is committed to evidence-based, interdisciplinary, nonpartisan efforts, free from technology industry funding.