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Executive Vice Chancellor in Children and Media Research Team

Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost Part of Team Reporting
Findings of Media’s Effects on Children

Results of 14 research studies in special issues of two scholarly journals

(February 11, 2005)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — University of California, Riverside’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ellen A. Wartella, is a member of a consortium of researchers reporting that very young children’s interactions with TV and computers are a mixed bag of opportunities and cautions, while teenagers’ Internet use has changed so much that the myths of several years ago need to be debunked.

Wartella leads research into the effects of the media on child development at UCR as part of the five-site Children’s Digital Media Center, a research initiative funded by the National Science Foundation. She worked with Sandra L. Calvert of Georgetown University, who heads the CDMC; Patricia M. Greenfield, who heads research at UCLA; Elizabeth A. Venderwater, who heads research at the University of Texas-Austin; and Barbara J. O’Keefe, who heads the research at Northwestern University.

The researchers reported the results of 14 research studies in special issues of The American Behavioral Scientist of November/December 2004 and the January 2005 issue Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. Wartella was the editor of the issue of The American Behavioral Scientist that carried the studies. She was also co-author of all the studies on children age 6 and younger and their uses of TV and interactive media.

The issues tackled topics such as how teenagers’ uses of the Internet differ from their parents’ assumptions; how teens develop sexuality and identity in online chat rooms and through email; and the impact of educational television on young children’s reading development and comprehension.

Findings indicate that American children live in an “all-pervasive sexualized media environment” that produces a “tremendous amount of inadvertent exposure to pornography and other adult sexual media;” that teens are exposed to values on the Internet that would disturb many parents; and that teens often search the Internet for information about sex that they would be embarrassed to discuss with an adult.

Wartella is an active scholar who’s held the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair in Communications, Mrs. Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair in Communication, the UNESCO Chair in Communications, and Professor of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas.

She serves on several national boards including the Decade of Behavior National Advisory Committee; the National Academies of Science Board on Children, Youth and Families; the Sesame Workshop; Kraft Foods Global Health & Wellness Advisory Council; and the National Educational Advisory Board for the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.47 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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