Technology and Media in Children's Development


A 2016 SRCD Special Topic Meeting

Event Details

Follow @kidsandtech16 on Twitter
or visit the TMCD website.

The use of digital devices and social media is ubiquitous in the environment of 21st century children. From the moment of birth (and even in utero), children are surrounded by media and technology. This meeting will provide a forum for intellectual and interdisciplinary exchange on media and technology in development and is designed to appeal to a range of researchers from the seasoned media researcher to technology developers to developmentalists who need to understand more about the role of technology and media in children’s lives.

For press related inquiries, please contact Dr. Yalda Uhls:

Questions? Email

Blogs on Technology and Media in Children's Development

Registration and Housing

Registration included shuttle rides to/from hotel to the UCI Student Center, as well as breakfast, lunch, and evening receptions.


Early Bird Rate
(Ends 9/29)


All SRCD Members other than Student and Early Career Members



SRCD Early Career Member* $255 $285

SRCD Student Member**



All Nonmembers other than Early Career and Students



Early Career Nonmember* $335 $365

Student Nonmember



*Early Career is defined as those within 5 years of recieving Ph.D.
**Attention: Volunteer shifts are available for Student Members, please contact for more information on how to receive a $50 discount on your registration.

Attendees should use John Wayne Airport - Orange County (SNA) for flights to/from the meeting. SRCD will be offering a shuttle service for those staying at the conference hotels (only) which will take attendees to/from John Wayne Airport (only) and the conference venue, University of California, Irvine Student Center. 

Airport Shuttle Info: Click [here]
UCI Student Shuttle Schedule: Click [here]

Conference Hotels

Newport Beach Marriott Bayview
500 Bayview Circle
Newport Beach, CA  92660
(949) 854-4500 
Fairmont Newport Beach
4500 MacArthur Boulevard
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 476-2001

Registration Desk Hours (outside of Pacific Ballroom)

Thursday, October 27: 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Friday, October 28: 7:30am - 6:00pm
Saturday, October 29: 7:30am - 6:00pm
Sunday, October 30: 8:00am - 1:00pm

Invited Program

Putting the Education Back in “Educational” Apps
Thursday, October 27: 5:30pm - 6:30pm, UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom CD
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D.,Temple University and The Brookings Institution
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, The University of Delaware 

Abstract: Children are in the midst of a vast, unplanned experiment, surrounded by digital technologies that were not available even five years ago. A recent survey reported that three-fourths of children under the age of 4 years had their own mobile device (Kabali et al., 2015). At the apex of this boom is the introduction of applications (“apps”) for tablets and smartphones. So-called “educational apps” – which as of December 2015 stand at 1.5 million apps in the App Store, are largely unregulated and untested. This talk offers a way to think about the potential educational impact of current and future apps. Building on decades of work from the Science of Learning, which has examined how children learn best, we abstract a set of principles for two ultimate goals. First, we aim to guide researchers, educators, and designers in evidence-based app development. Second, the creation of an evidence-based guide will contribute to setting a new standard for evaluating and selecting the most effective existing children’s apps. In short, this talk presents one way to align the design and use of educational apps with known processes of children’s learning and development and offers a framework that can be used by parents and designers alike. Apps designed to promote active, engaged, meaningful and socially interactive learning (4 pillars) within the context of a supported learning goal emerge as those that are not just called “educational” but that are truly educational.

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Welcome Reception
The opening plenary will be followed by a Welcome Reception in the same location until 8:00pm. All attendees are welcome!
Join the organizers of the TMCD Special Topic Meeting and network with colleagues and other attendees while you enjoy hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. Posters from the Doctoral Consortium Preconference will be displayed and presenters available for discussion. Special thanks to our sponsors - the National Science Foundation and the Grable Foundation.

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Winning (Virtual) Friends and Influencing (Virtual) People
Friday, October 28: 8:30am - 9:30am, UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom CD
Justine Cassell, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Relationships between peers are of paramount importance in children's lives. Toy and technology companies take advantage of this fact when they build child characters for children to interact with. It might be Talk to Me Barbie, My Friend Cayla, Elmo Calls or the characters that lead children through math lessons in intelligent tutoring systems. However, are the peer relationships that are so effective among children equally effective when one member of the friendship is made of plastic? Few companies have even asked the question, nor have they examined the developmental science that might inform the implementation of a virtual peer.

In this talk I propose a particular approach to the study of children's peer relationships that can be applied to their relationships with virtual peers. I focus on that most human of relationship types - intrinsically dyadic phenomena such as rapport, friendship, intimacy, and interpersonal closeness. I rely on this approach to describe the minutiae of verbal and nonverbal behaviors that function in peers to evoke, deepen, demonstrate, and destroy peer relationships. I highlight the need for differentiating the observable behaviors from inferable underlying states by demonstrating how putatively negative behaviors may play a positive role in peer rapport. And I describe some important roles that these often neglected aspects of children's behavior may play in learning, when the learning partner is another child, or an educational technology. Each step of the talk is illustrated by experiments that involve both human-human and human-technology interaction. I include novel approaches to designing educational technologies that can improve learning gains through rapport management. And finally, lessons are drawn both for the study of children's behavior, and the improved design of technologies capable of engaging in interaction with people over the long-term.

Biography: Dr Justine Cassell received a dual PhD in Developmental Psychology and Linguistics from the University of Chicago and is currently Associate Dean of Technology Strategy and Impact in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where she was until 2014 Director of the Human Computer Interaction Institute. She is also co-director of CMU's new Simon Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning. Cassell was faculty at Northwestern University from 2003 to 2010, where she was the founding director of the Center for Technology and Social Behavior and the joint PhD in Technology and Social Behavior. Before that she was a tenured professor at the MIT Media Lab. Cassell received the Edgerton Prize at MIT, was honored in 2008 with the "Women of Vision" award from the Anita Borg Institute, in 2011 was named to the World Economic Forum Council on AI and Robotics and Work Group on the Future of Education, and in 2012 was named a fellow of the AAAS. Cassell's current research examines the role of sociocultural factors in technology-enhanced learning and other kinds of computer-mediated collaboration.

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The Class: Living and Learning in the Digital Age
Saturday, October 29: 8:30am - 9:30am, UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom CD
Sonia Livingstone, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Abstract: What did I learn from spending over a year following around – at home and school, offline and online - a class of 13 year olds from an ordinary urban London school? I asked, what do young people want, how do they see the world, and how do they find a path through the opportunities and constraints they face in today’s highly mediated, commercialised and high-pressure society? In crucial ways, this detailed ethnographic study not only challenged popular myths about teenagers’ supposed immersion in and preference for the digital environment, it also challenged the more fundamental assumption that they seek constant connection and, further, that connections foster learning and sociality. The study therefore became an exploration of how young people use the resources available, digital and otherwise, to assert their agency and identity - both against and with their peers, both for and against learning, balancing civility and transgression in distinctive ways.

Biography: Sonia Livingstone OBE is a full professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE. Author of 20 books and many articles, Sonia researches the opportunities and risks for children and young people afforded by digital and online technologies, focusing on media literacy, social mediations, and children’s rights in the digital age. Her new book is The Class: living and learning in the digital age (2016, with Julian Sefton-Green). Recipient of many honors, Professor Livingstone has advised the UK government, European Commission, Council of Europe and others on children’s rights and safety in the digital age. A fellow of the British Psychological Society, Royal Society for the Arts, and fellow and past President of the International Communication Association, she currently leads the projects Global Kids Online and Preparing for a Digital Future and previously directed EU Kids Online. See

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Digital Technology and Sociality: Implications for Human Development
Saturday, October 29: 4:30pm - 5:30pm, UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom CD
Patricia Greenfield, University of California, Los Angeles

Abstract: Using my theory of social change and human development as a framework (Greenfield, 2009, 2015), my presentation will report on six collaborative studies at Children’s Digital Media Center @ Los Angeles. The studies employ a variety of methods - content analysis, focus group, survey, experiment, and fMRI. They explore several facets of sociality that are important for human development: cultural values, social skills, social validation, and social relationships.

Biography: Dr. Patricia Greenfield received her Ph. D. from Harvard University and is currently Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UCLA and Director of the Children's Digital Media Center @ Los Angeles, a collaboration between UCLA and California State University, Los Angeles. Her central theoretical and research interest is in the relationship between culture and human development, particularly the effect of social change. Digital technology is a key aspect of our culture and the most important element of social change in our society. Her books include Mind and Media: The Effects of Television, Video Games, and Computers (Harvard University Press, 1984), which was translated into nine languages and was republished in 2015 as a 30th anniversary classic edition. Her research on the implications of media and technology for cognitive and social development has covered the full range of media from print, radio, and TV to video games, computers, mobile technologies, and the Internet - including teen chatrooms, MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.

Greenfield is a past recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Behavioral Science Research, and has received teaching awards from UCLA and the American Psychological Association. In 2014, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, she received the Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the American Psychological Association and, in 2013, the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cultural and Contextual Factors in Child Development from the Society for Research in Child Development. Her research program includes basic and applied cross- cultural projects in Los Angeles, Mexico, Israel, and China, as well as cross- species and neural investigations linking cultural processes to language, communication, cognition, and social development.

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Where We've Been and Where We Might Go
Sunday, October 30: 12:00pm - 12:45pm, UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom CD
Ellen A. Wartella, Northwestern University

Biography: Ellen A. Wartella is a leading scholar of the role of media in children’s development.  She is the Al-thani  Professor of Communication Studies, Chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University.  Before moving to Northwestern in 2010, she was Executive Vice Chancellor, Provost and Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, from 2004–2010. Wartella was dean of the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin from 1993–2004, where she also held the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair, the Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair, and the UNESCO Chair in International Communication.

She received a B.A. with honors from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, and M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. She then taught at Ohio State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before assuming the Texas deanship.

The author or editor of 12 books and approximately 200 book chapters, research articles, technical reports and research papers, Wartella is currently co-principal Investigator on a 5-year multi-site research project entitled:  “Collaborative Research: Using Educational DVDs to Enhance Young Children’s STEM Education (2013-2018) from the National Science Foundation. She also is co-Principal Investigator on  a National Science Foundation  grant entitled “Media Characters: The Unhidden Persuaders in Food Marketing to Children (2013-2016).  She was a co-principal Investigator on the National TV Violence Study (1995–1998) and a co-principal investigator of the Children's Digital Media Center project funded by the National Science Foundation (2001–2006) and the IRADS Collaborative Research: influence of Digital Media on Young Children (2006-2011 from NSF.   She currently edits Social Policy Reports for the Society for Research in Child Development.

She chaired the Front-of-Package Marketing study committee of the Institute of Medicine (2009-2011), served on the Advancing Progress on Obesity Prevention study committee (2011-2013) and the Study of Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth (2006).   She serves on the Board of Trustees of Sesame Workshop and the National Educational Advisory Board of the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Board of the World Summit on Children and Media and the Board of the Public Good Projects.    During 2006-2007 she was the Inaugural Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development and is the past President and Fellow of the International Communication Association. She received the Steven H. Chaffee Career Productivity Award from the ICA, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Communication Association and the Krieghbaum Under 40 Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.  She received the 2015 Outstanding Achievement Award for Alumni of the University of Minnesota.  Ellen Wartella researches the effects of media on children and adolescents, and the impact of food marketing in the childhood obesity crisis.  She is particularly interested in addressing public policy questions about children’s use of media and technology.

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Invited Sessions

Developer Meets Developmentalist: Panel on Industry-Academic Partnerships
Friday, October 28: 9:45am - 11:15am,  UCI Student Center, Emerald Bay AB
Moderator: Brown Johnson, Executive Vice President and Creative Director Sesame Workshop
Panelists: Kevin Clark, Laura Gatto, Michelle Lee, Rosemarie T. Truglio, Alice Wilder

Brown Johnson is the Executive Vice President and Creative Director at Sesame Workshop. Johnson is responsible for the development and production of the Workshop’s domestic television content, as well as creative services. Johnson is an award-winning producer of some of the most successful children’s programs. Before joining the Workshop, she served as President of Animation and Preschool Entertainment at Nickelodeon where she managed development and production of more than 200 episodes of programming each year. Johnson pioneered the interactive format of the groundbreaking preschool programs Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues. She also conceived and oversaw the development of the Nickelodeon preschool block featuring hit shows including Go Diego Go!Yo Gabba Gabba!, Team UmiZoomiThe Backyardigans, and Ni Hao Kai Lan. Johnson led the creative development to extend the preschool block online and through retail. Many of the programs she created and managed showcase characters of diverse ethnicities. Her focus on the development of multi-ethnic children’s media spurred Johnson to create fellowships in writing and art to grow the next generation of diverse creators. In Johnson’s more than 20 years with Nickelodeon, she received multiple Emmy awards, Television Critics Awards, Peabody Awards, Imagen and NAACP Image Awards.  Johnson serves on the advisory board of Peter Gabriel’s WITNESS foundation, the board of governors of We Are Family Foundation, the Ambassador Council of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and is a graduate student mentor for the USC John C. Hensch Division of Animation and Digital Arts. Johnson resides in New York and has one daughter. 

Kevin Clark is a professor in the Division of Learning Technologies and the Founding Director of the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. His research focuses on the role of interactive and digital media in education, broadening participation in STEM careers and disciplines, and issues of diversity in children’s media. Kevin has more than 20 years experience as a designer, advisor, and consultant to informal learning and media organizations such as:  National Park Service, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Disney Junior, Jim Henson Company, DHX Media, Toca Boca, Hasbro, and Amazon Studios. Kevin currently serves as the Strategic Advisor for Diversity in Children’s Content Production to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Dr. Clark has been honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his work in supporting and accelerating STEM opportunities for African American students, schools, and communities. Dr. Clark holds both a B.S. and M.S. in computer science from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems from Pennsylvania State University. For more information about Dr. Clark’s work, please visit

Laura Gatto has more than 15 years of experience as a multimedia producer and editor, with an extensive background and expertise in production, design, and instruction. Her passion for creating thoughtful, interactive learning experiences for children informs her role at BrainPOP, where she serves as Instructional Product Designer. In that capacity, she oversaw the development of one of the company’s most popular new features, the concept mapping tool Make-a-Map. Currently, she is working on a tool that will enable students to make their own BrainPOP-inspired videos. Laura holds a graduate degree in Digital Media Designs for Learning from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture and Education, where she focused on Games for Learning. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Film & Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Norwalk Community College in CT. Her two sons, ages 7 and 9, continue to be a prime source of inspiration

Michelle Lee leads the Design for Play Team, an integrated team of researchers, designers, and developers bringing engaging, interactive and playful experiences to market. Their work includes beloved children’s apps Balloonimals and Monster Moves as well as partnering with respected brands like Sesame Workshop, Fisher-Price and Leapfrog to co-create favorite apps such as the top-ranking Elmo Calls. She is a huge proponent for integrating playful elements not only in toys and apps, but also in the broader context of our daily experiences, regularly contributing to IDEO consulting projects that span industries ranging from education to transportation. Throughout her career, Michelle has been driven by a desire to bring thoughtful solutions to fruition through user-centered design. Designing toys at VTech and University Games fueled her passion for play, while lead product roles at thredUP and ShopWell – a health and nutrition IDEO spinout – ignited her spirit of entrepreneurship. Her IDEO tenure includes design research and product design roles, influencing products and services across food and beverage, consumer products, education, entertainment and retail.  Michelle holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in the Joint Program for Design from Stanford University, where she’s also served as an instructor.

Rosemarie T. Truglio is the Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop. Dr. Truglio is responsible for the development of the interdisciplinary curriculum on which Sesame Street is based and oversees content development across platforms (e.g., television, publishing, toys, home video, and theme park activities). Previously, Dr. Truglio managed an interdisciplinary global content team responsible for all global co-productions and content development across all media platforms, including digital media. From 1997 to 2013, she oversaw all educational research pertaining to program development, the results of which informed both the production and creative decisions for how to enhance the entertaining and educational components of linear and interactive content.  Before joining Sesame Workshop in 1997, she was an Assistant Professor of Communication and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Truglio has written numerous articles in child and developmental psychology journals and presented her work at national and international conferences. Additionally, she is co-editor of “G is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street” (2001) published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Dr. Truglio has appeared on numerous broadcast, cable, and radio news and talk programs, including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “CNN’s  Headline News and Sanjay Gupta. MD,” “Showbiz Tonight,” NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and has been interviewed by reporters from a variety of national newspapers and news agencies. Dr. Truglio currently serves on several advisory boards: the NSF REESE grant entitled Collaborative Research: Using Educational DVDs to Enhance Preschooler’s STEM Education; and Lego Foundation Research & Innovation Network on Learning Through Play. She previously served on the National Advisory Child Health and Human Development Council (NICHD); the PBS KIDS Next Generation Media; the Children’s Digital Media Center Advisory Board;  the National Association for Media Literacy Education; PlayAbility Scale Board/Parent’s Choice Foundation; and The Ultimate Block Party/Learn Now. Dr. Truglio received a Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas, and a B.A in Psychology from Douglass College, Rutgers University.  She received distinguished alumni awards from Douglass College (2005), University of Kansas (2013) and Rutgers University (2014). 

Alice Wilder serves as the educational advisor responsible for developing the Amazon Kids Original Programminglearning approach and is helping implement Amazon's unique educational point of view into the development of new series. In this role, she is also an Emmy Award winning Co-Executive Producer and Head of Educational Development for Tumble Leaf, Co-Executive Producer and Head of Educational Development for The Stinky and Dirty Show, Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Creative Galaxy on Amazon Instant Video. In addition, she is the Chief Learning Officer for Speakaboos, a kid-centric, cross-publisher literacy platform. She also is the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids the “School House Rock” of financial literacy for 7-12 year olds, airing in Asia on Cartoon Network.  Alice is co-creator and head of research and education for Super WHY! on PBS Kids, and served as a Producer and the Director of Research and Development for Nick Jr.’s Blue’s Clues. And she is a senior fellow at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. She continues to advise the Kids & Creativity group in Pittsburgh, bringing kids and their point of view to help support educators, technologists, and makers as Kidsburgh creates a model and movement around the integration of the arts, sciences, and technology to inspire creative learning and play. Her groundbreaking work in formative research was cited in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Alice bases her work in formative research on the philosophy that ‘the only way to understand what children are capable of doing, what appeals to them, and what they know, is to ask them!

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Born Digital: Connecting Developmental Science to Media Research
Friday, October 28: 9:45am - 11:15am,  UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom AB
Chair: Stephanie Reich, University of California, Irvine

  • Presentation 1: The Digital Divide: How Developmental Constraints on Memory Influence Transfer of Learning From Media
    Rachel F Barr, Georgetown University
  • Presentation 2
    Daniel Anderson, University of Massachusetts
  • Presentation 3: Conceptualizing Adolescent Peer Relations in the “Social Media” Era
    B. Bradford Brown, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Presentation 4: Studying Digital Communication to Inform Our understanding of Adolescent Well-Being in the “Social Media” Era
    Kaveri Subrahmanyam, California State University, Los Angeles

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Diversity and Access in Children's Use of Technology and Media
Saturday, October 29: 9:45am - 11:15am,  UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom AB
Chair: L. Monique Ward, University of Michigan

  • Presentation 1: The Nature and Impact of Portrayals of Black Women and Men in TV, Movies, and Music
    L. Monique Ward, University of Michigan
  • Presentation 2: A National Survey of African American Families Online
    Kevin Clark, George Mason University
  • Presentation 3: Beyond the Digital Divide: Exploring the Digital Media Practices of Black and Hispanic Youth
    S. Craig Watkins, The Moody College of Communication, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Presentation 4: Online Racial Discrimination, Adjustment and the Design of Empowering Digital Tools for Adolescents
    Brendesha Tynes, University of Southern California

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Using Technology to Understand Children and Adolescents’ Development in a Digital World
Sunday, October 30: 10:15am - 11:45am,  UCI Student Center, Pacific Ballroom AB
Chair: Samuel E. Ehrenreich, The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Presentation 1: Studying Adolescents in “The Wild”: Leveraging Mobile Technologies to Capture Adolescents’ Health in Daily Life
    Candice L. Odgers, Duke University
  • Presentation 2: Capturing and Coding the Content of Adolescents’ Text Message and Social Media Communication
    Samuel E. Ehrenreich, The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Presentation 3: Observing and Interpreting Adolescents’ Health-Related Content on Image-Based Social Media
    Ellen Selkie, University of Michigan
  • Presentation 4: Searching for Traces of Bullying on Twitter
    Amy Bellmore, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Upcoming Events

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Skyline of Minneapolis MN

SRCD 2025 Biennial Meeting

Event Date & Time

May 1-3, 2025 | Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA