Cal Poly Professor Alison Ventura

Cal Poly Study of Maternal Mobile Device Use and Infant Development in the First Year Postpartum Receives $2.7 Million Grant | Cal Poly News

SAN LUIS OBISPO – A $2.7 million grant-funded study – awarded to a research team led by Cal Poly Kinesiology and Public Health Professor Alison Ventura – aims to better understand how the use of technology by mothers can impact development during an infant’s first year.

Federal funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (one of the National Institutes of Health) will support a five-year study involving four university staff and approximately 20 undergraduate students. The study will begin this fall.

“The Use of Maternal Technology During Feeding and Infant Self-Regulation and Growth” will examine current uses of digital devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers, and video streaming platforms and whether their use by the mother influences feeding interactions, emotional and social behavior, growth outcomes, and other areas of child development.

During these early stages, Ventura said, babies express themselves through nonverbal cues that mothers learn to pick up on. Babies typically suck between eight and 12 times a day and express the desire to feed through signs such as mouth opening and closing, lip smacking and turning towards their mother’s breast. Infants, in turn, also learn early communication through maternally directed gaze, smile, and vocalization.

“It’s really important for caregivers to be tuned in to their infants’ behavioral cues,” said Ventura, whose work since 2016 through the university’s Center for Health Research has focused on parent-child interactions. child during infancy.

“In many ways, a caregiver has to learn their baby’s language to meet their baby’s needs,” Ventura said. “We want to better understand how mother-child communication may be affected by mothers’ use of technology. Does the use of technology provide mothers with more information and support that benefits their development as a new mother? Are mothers able to multi-task when using technology and focus on baby’s needs? »

Ventura, who teaches at the College of Science and Mathematics, said the project is an “exciting opportunity to understand the potential effects of technology on family interactions over time.”

The study will include 345 participants, from English- and Spanish-speaking families, from San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties.

“Parents have always had many resources at their disposal, whether it’s a parenting book, magazine or website,” Ventura said. “But modern technology devices are unique in that they are always available and easily provide parents with an almost endless amount of information, resources, distractions and opportunities for social connection. We are excited to better understand the experience of modern families and how these experiences can shape the development of their infants.

The study will use video recordings of mothers’ interactions with their infants to analyze and document the patterns of interactions. It will also measure mothers’ digital behaviors through an app installed on participants’ phones and collect mothers’ survey responses about their perceptions and experiences over the study period.

“We have a number of different behavioral protocols that we will use to try to address these important aspects of development in the first year, such as how babies regulate their energy intake and their emotions in different situations,” said said Ventura.

For more information about the study and how to participate, go to:

About Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics
With approximately 2,800 undergraduate students and approximately 280 graduate students, the college offers degrees in biology, chemistry, kinesiology and public health, physics, mathematics, statistics, marine science, microbiology, and biochemistry. The college is also home to the university’s undergraduate liberal studies program for prospective teachers and Cal Poly’s School of Post-Baccalaureate Education. The esteemed college, which embraces Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing mission, is renowned for its outstanding undergraduate research and significant involvement in student co-authorship in scientific journal publications. Visit

About Cal Poly
Cal Poly is a nationally ranked public university in San Luis Obispo, California known for its Learn by Doing philosophy. Each year, approximately 22,000 top students come to Cal Poly to put their knowledge into practice, learning outside the classroom as they prepare for careers in fields such as engineering, agriculture, science, business, humanities and the built environment. Cal Poly’s hands-on approach, small class sizes, and close student-faculty mentorships enable Ready Day One graduates to make an impact in their communities, California, and the world. Visit

September 21, 2022
Contact: Nick Wilson

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