Teaching infant car seat installation via interactive visual presence: An experimental trial

Academic Article


  • Objective: A large portion of child restraint systems (car seats) are installed incorrectly, especially when first-time parents install infant car seats. Expert instruction greatly improves the accuracy of car seat installation but is labor intensive and difficult to obtain for many parents. This study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of 3 ways of communicating instructions for proper car seat installation: phone conversation; HelpLightning, a mobile application (app) that offers virtual interactive presence permitting both verbal and interactive (telestration) visual communication; and the manufacturer's user manual. Methods: A sample of 39 young adults of child-bearing age who had no previous experience installing car seats were recruited and randomly assigned to install an infant car seat using guidance from one of those 3 communication sources. Results: Both the phone and interactive app were more effective means to facilitate accurate car seat installation compared to the user manual. There was a trend for the app to offer superior communication compared to the phone, but that difference was not significant in most assessments. The phone and app groups also installed the car seat more efficiently and perceived the communication to be more effective and their installation to be more accurate than those in the user manual group. Conclusions: Interactive communication may help parents install car seats more accurately than using the manufacturer's manual alone. This was an initial study with a modestly sized sample; if results are replicated in future research, there may be reason to consider centralized “call centers” that provide verbal and/or interactive visual instruction from remote locations to parents installing car seats, paralleling the model of centralized Poison Control centers in the United States.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Schwebel DC; Johnston A; Rouse J
  • Start Page

  • 188
  • End Page

  • 192
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 2