The Institute’s mission is grounded in four pillars: advance and support interdisciplinary research, inform and educate the public, influence sound public policy for child health and wellness, and enhance human capital in the field. These pillars are interconnected, and all are driven by research.
Advance and Support Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
The Institute advances and supports the expansion of high-quality, interdisciplinary research and multi-field interaction to enhance understanding of the impact of digital media on children.
As technology becomes more ubiquitous in our lives and in the lives of children, there are still unanswered questions and known complexities related to how these experiences influence development and well-being throughout childhood. Looking ahead, we know new technologies will continue to emerge at record speed, each with unknown and untold implications for the developing child. This creates an unprecedented need for nimble methodologies, advanced and validated research tools, and most importantly the ability to conduct rigorous research in an environment that integrates diverse perspectives and approaches.
The Institute’s primary role in advancing and supporting research is to invest in novel research with seed grants and convene the top experts around the globe to leverage the power of interdisciplinary collaboration, dialogue and scientific research. The Interdisciplinary Research Grant Program provides seed funding for rigorous, objective scientific studies that are pushing the boundaries of the field across all aspects of child development including cognitive, psychological, physical, social, etc.
The scientific congresses and research retreats provide opportunities for researchers, clinicians, educators, policymakers, and community, state, and federal organizations to come together to share knowledge from research and field experiences, discuss ongoing questions and challenges in the field, and push the boundaries of their collective work to improve science, practice, and communications.
Communicate, Educate, and Inform
The Institute is a resource for scientifically based, objective information on the use of media by children and the impact on their development.
Conflicting information exists regarding the risks and benefits that digital media offers toddlers, children and youth, and how parents, caregivers, clinicians and society at large can best intervene and guide young people. The Institute works to identify and communicate accurate and trustworthy information on this and other related topics to a variety of audiences: scholars, parents, educators, clinicians, collaborating organizations, and the general public.
The Institute organizes a wealth of educational events for the community throughout the year, including our #AskTheExperts webinar series, bringing together interdisciplinary panels of experts to address specific topics related to digital media’s effects on child development. Additionally, the Institute regularly publishes new research-based resources for parents, caregivers, educators and policymakers, spotlights relevant research from reputable academic journals and organizations, and communicates with stakeholders through proactive public awareness campaigns to further promote the health and wellbeing of children in the context of digital media.
Influence Public Policy
The Institute monitors existing and developing policies that advance safety and child-centered design features, both nationally and at the state level, and will build on research results to guide priorities for policy and legislative changes.
There are many policies either being considered or passed into law that address the overall use and impact of digital media. The crafting of effective legislation, passing of legislation, and the defense of it in courts will be enhanced if rooted in evidence. Children and Screens, as a 501-c-3 organization, cannot lobby directly, but it can work to ensure that legislators, policymakers, advocates, and litigators are well informed about the research findings, public health implications and potential harms to children and communities. Through such education, Children and Screens can help bridge the information gap among researchers, educators, and policymakers.
Children and Screens serves as a resource for those working to create a safe online environment for children. Guided by a commitment to quality research, the Institute provides evidence-based informational and educational resources to policymakers and advocates. Increased involvement with agencies such as the FTC (Federal Trade Commision) and NIH (National Institutes of Health), and relationships with legislators at the national and state levels, allows the Institute to educate and inform leaders as they consider the increasing role of media in children’s lives and the need for more focused and in-depth research.
Develop and Strengthen Human Capital in the Field
The Institute develops and strengthens human capital in the field by offering opportunities for students, trainees, and early-career professionals to gain practical work experience and work collaboratively to bring our mission of helping children lead healthy lives in a digital world to life..
By bringing together students and young professionals from across the nation to work collaboratively, the Institute facilitates the development of novel ideas that propel new research and initiatives to help children lead healthy digital lives. .
Additionally, the Institute regularly offers scholarship and mentorship opportunities for its in-person convenings. Scholarships are offered on a limited basis to support the greatest diversity and inclusion of participants in our community for those who would not be able to attend the event without assistance. Mentorship programs enhance the experiences of young scholars or first-time participants through facilitated networking and guidance from senior experts in the field.
Children and Screens is proud to host a robust, hands-on, real-world internship experience that enhances students’ professional profiles while also providing opportunities to hone existing skills and develop new skills. Since its founding, the Institute has hosted nearly 400 undergraduate and graduate students from universities around the country. The Institute offers five different internship tracks: research, policy, social media and marketing, video, and development. The tracks which allow students to specialize in their specific interest and career trajectory.