Closing Remarks


Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, DO

Founder and President, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development;
Clinical Assistant Professor, Health Care Policy and Management, School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University


Good morning, and thank you again for being here. My journey with you this week has been an incredible experience. I greatly enjoyed the pleasure of your company and the intellectual thrill of learning from you. Reflecting on what I’ve learned over the past few days has heightened my awareness of many important ideas and inspired many others. The Congress has catalyzed an astonishing community of people interested in the relationship between digital media and developing minds.

Listing all the superlatives that describe you would make for an unforgivably long speech, but I’ll settle for a quick observations. I am greatly encouraged by the range of disciplinary perspectives that you brought to bear on our shared interests, media studies, psychology, sociology, psychiatry, anthropology, pediatrics, neuroscience, data analytics, education theory and practice, public policy, public health, ophthalmology, sleep studies, addiction medicine, sensor, and telemetry engineering. The list goes on and on and on.

Thank you for joining forces here. Your collective capabilities fill me with confidence and optimism. The intergenerational character of this event and it’s institutional and geographic diversity also reassure me. Some here have led their fields for decades. Others’ talent and effort are just starting to produce publishable results. There are mentors here with their protégés and some of them are confirming others’ work, and some are contradicting each other. All are advancing the frontiers of our knowledge.

Many more countries are represented here than at the first national Congress three years ago. The world is here. Word is spreading. More eyes are turning to this subject and more children will benefit as a consequence. This is terrific news. Although the hour is late, I cannot conclude without thanking the people whose hard work is reflected in the quality of this event – David Stewart, Rachel Lopez, Catie Carr and their team here at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have been wonderful partners and hosts. This is a place for deep learning and important discovery, and it has been a privilege to be here. My Congress committee members have been generous with their time and expertise. So, too, has the Children and Screens Scientific Advisory Board. In particular, I’d like to invite Dmitri Christakis, Charles Czeisler, Karen Dill-Shackelford, Elizabeth Englander, Larry Rosen, Paul Weigle, and Steven Uzzo to stand and take a bow, whoever is left here.

My Children and Screens staff also rose to the challenges of this ambitious undertaking. Please join me in recognizing my assistant, Lauren Hill, without whose help this event would not have been possible, and her army of interns, Chelsea Brown, Jenna Buono, Brittany Davis, Rachel Horner, Leona Ofei, Madeline Potoskie, and Valerie Tobi. Thanks also to Barbara Brown and Natasha Irani for putting together the tools and methodologies exposition.

It will take some time to process all that I have seen and learned here. Please join me in that effort. Let me know what you think worked best about this Congress, and how Children and Screens and others can capitalize on the knowledge and relationships cultivated here. Be equally generous with your criticism. We share your commitment to excellence and appreciate that we are more likely to reach that standard with you than without you. In other words, let’s all keep talking. The free and fearless exchange of ideas is the most important tool at our disposal. Thank you for coming, enjoy your lunch, and have a safe trip home.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH

George Adkins Professor of Pediatrics, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, and Adjunct Professor of Health Services, University of Washington School of Medicine; Director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute; Attending Pediatrician, Seattle Children’s Hospital; Editor-in-Chief, JAMA Pediatrics; Advisory Board Member, Children and Screens


Pam thanked everybody but herself, so I’d actually like to acknowledge the unbelievable work that she has done and her commitment to this incredibly important field. It’s amazing to me how far Children and Screens has come in three or four years. Some of you were at the previous Congress, and I think this conference is, frankly, for me, the best one I ever go to. It is the breadth, the depth, the quality of the speakers, the interactions on the sidelines, they really just are incredibly stimulating. It really is drinking out of a fire hose. I told Pam that I’ve never been at a conference like whatever night that was, I don’t remember now, Tuesday, when we were in this room from 9 in the morning until 9:30 at night, and yet people were still really engaged because of the quality of the presentations.

So please join me in thanking Pam. It is really unbelievable.

One final word before you all leave. I think this is a very well-kept secret, how good this Congress is. So if you agree, we will be having one again. Pam has committed in two years, I think in DC. So please, we’ll get the date out to you, and use your extensive social media context and all of your savvy to disseminate it so that we can spread the word about how great it is.

Lunch is served now, and then safe trip home. Thanks.