Features of apps, digital games and e-books which influence joint media engagement between adults and children aged 2 to 7 years: A multi-level meta-analysis

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This study explores the impact of digital design features on Joint Media Engagement (JME) between adults and young children aged 2-7 years using interactive digital media, such as apps, games, and e-books. We employed a robust variance estimation to create multi-level meta-analysis models of 15 experimental studies, accounting for the interdependence between within-study effect sizes. The results reveal an overall positive effect of digital design features on adult-child interactions, with a larger influence on oral language-related interactions (e.g. quality of adult language input). However, little evidence was found of the impact on longer-term outcomes such as child learning. Sub-group analyses indicate positive effects on parents, cognitive or instructive adult-child interactions and for e-books or literacy apps (vs other kinds of apps). In terms of specific design features, the strongest evidence was found for the use of embedded dialogic (conversational) prompts embedded within e-books. We discuss these findings in relation to study characteristics contributing to these results.