Using interactive virtual presence to support accurate installation of child restraints: Efficacy and parental perceptions

Academic Article


  • Introduction Child restraint systems (car seats) reduce injury risk for young children involved in motor-vehicle crashes, but parents experience significant difficulty installing child restraints correctly. Installation by certified child passenger safety (CPS) technicians yields more accurate installation, but is impractical for broad distribution. A potential solution is use of interactive virtual presence via smartphone application (app), which permits “hands on” teaching through simultaneous and remote joint exposure to 3-dimensional images. Method In two studies, we examined the efficacy of remote communication via interactive virtual presence to help parents install child restraints. Study 1 was conducted at existing car seat checkpoints and Study 2 at preschools/daycare centers. In both cases, existing installations were assessed by certified CPS technicians using an objective coding scheme. Participants then communicated with remotely-located certified CPS technicians via a smartphone app offering interactive virtual presence. Technicians instructed participants to install child restraints and then the installation was inspected by on-site technicians. Both before and after the remote interaction, participants completed questionnaires concerning perception of child restraints and child restraint installation, self-efficacy to install child restraints, and perceived risk of injury to children if they were in a crash. Results In both studies, accuracy of child restraint installations improved following the remote interaction between participants and certified CPS technicians. Together, the two samples achieved a weighted average of 90% correct installations across a multi-point inspection. Both samples reported increased self-efficacy to install child restraints and altered perceptions about the accuracy of the child restraint installations in their vehicles. Conclusions Findings support use of interactive virtual presence as a strategy to realize accurate installation of child restraints. Practical applications Interactive virtual presence between certified CPS technicians and the public via smartphone app has potential to improve proper child restraint installations broadly, including to vulnerable and underserved rural populations.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schwebel DC; Tillman MA; Crew M; Muller M; Johnston A
  • Start Page

  • 235
  • End Page

  • 243
  • Volume

  • 62