WELCOME TO THE
CHILDREN’S DIGITAL MEDIA CENTER
Thank you for visiting Children’s Digital Media Center@UCLA.
This letter provides an update on recent activities.
We have begun to apply our decades of research and theory development on digital media to university teaching online, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our success with online teaching during COVID led to two new funded projects: In 2021, UCLA Online provided a grant to further develop my graduate seminar, Qualitative and Mixed Methods in Psychology, Education, and the Social Sciences, as a purely online course. In 2023, UC Online granted funds for me to teach my class, Culture and Human Development, remotely to the eight undergraduate campuses of the University of California system, thus increasing its reach to undergraduates throughout California and its accessibility for students who cannot afford to live on or near campus and those who have heavy family or work responsibilities.
In the research area, our newest publication, a collaboration with Romanian colleagues, explores the effect on thinking styles of free media access in Romania, a development that took place as the country transitioned from communism to a market economy and democracy. We found that thinking became more relativistic (i.e., recognizing multiple perspectives on a topic or issue) and less absolutist (i.e., thinking there is only one right way) subsequent to the transition. An important developmental finding was that the effect was larger the earlier in life democracy was experienced. You can read the article here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0281785
UCLA selected this study for a press release titled “Is it too late to change your mind?” You can read the press release here:
Our latest research enterprise, supported by the Flora Foundation, explores whether children’s academic performance is undermined when they are interrupted by cellphone notifications; and we have completed a pilot experiment. Our initial results indicate a negative effect on reading comprehension when children have their own cell phone next to them, even when they do not receive any notifications. Our findings also suggest that this negative effect is greater, the younger the child is when they receive their own phone. We hope to carry out a full-scale study in the coming year.
Dr. Yalda Uhls, the Associate Director of CDMC, has continued to expand the activities of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers (https://www.scholarsandstorytellers.com). Dr. Uhls created the Center in order to build a bridge between the siloed worlds of researchers, content creators and young people. A product of the past year was a tip sheet for content creators regarding the media representation of Asian American Youth Mental Health. Another recent development was to initiate an annual report series called teens and screens. For the first report, researchers asked teens about the topics they wish to see in the content they watch and which kinds of media feel most authentic to them.
We look forward to continued productivity and progress in the coming year. Please explore our website to see the full range of our past work at Children’s Digital Media Center.