SRCD 2016
Special Topics Meeting on Technology and Media in Children's Development
Irvine, California
October 27-30

Important Dates

  • Mar 2 Submission system opens
  • Apr 6 Submission system closes
  • May 15 Doctoral Consortium Deadline
  • Aug 15 Pre-Conference Workshop Deadline
  • Oct 27 Conference begins
  • Oct 30 Conference ends


Our Keynotes

Putting the education back in “educational” apps

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D.,Temple University and The Brookings Institution

Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, The University of Delaware

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.

Digital technology and sociality: Implications for human development

Patricia M. Greenfield,UCLA

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.

Speaker Bio

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.

Winning (Virtual) Friends and Influencing (Virtual) People

Justine Cassell, Carnegie Mellon University

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.

Speaker Bio

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.

Living and Learning in the Digital Age

Sonia Livingstone, Department of Media and Communications at LSE

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.

Speaker Bio

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

What we are saying


“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”