Dr. Sandra L. Calvert
Professor of Psychology
Georgetown University


Interview Date


Current research areas

Key Quote

  • "In general, I would say that TV viewing is not a positive force in increasing the imaginative quality of children's lives, but you must look at what they are doing."

Key Points/Issues

Having admitted that little good research has been done into many of the questions raised during the interview, Dr. Calvert felt that there are a tremendous number of areas where further research can and should be done. While some studies have suggested that heavy television watching can retard creativity in children, Dr. Calvert suggests that new media can provide ample opportunity for imaginative role-play and a very rich fantasy life. Unfortunately, she adds, few researchers have looked at this.

Dr. Calvert states that we know very little about sexual content in the media, because of the difficult ethical issues that would be involved in such studies, but the lack of analysis means we don't truly understand the impact of exposure to sexual materials at a young age. Virtually no research has been done on the potential presence of dominant gender or racial stereotypes; while a modicum of research is being done on gender issues and the media, no research has been done on how they affect minority children. Girls are finally catching up to boys in their computer and media use, but little has been done to understand the uses girls have for this technology, which differ significantly from those of boys. "They [girls] are doing different things. Boys play more games. Girls like things that fit in with more traditional interest patterns; they like to communicate, email, instant message (IM), and use chat rooms. But they can be preyed upon by adults because there is no way to tell who you are interacting with. These are big dangers that are hard to research, but they are crying out for some sort of intervention."

Commercialization is another major issue of concern for Dr. Calvert. With technologies converging, all media is becoming both more integrated and more interactive. While commercial interests are figuring out how to exploit this, the trend towards an indistinct blending of advertisement and content, along with the potential ease of tracking consumer behavior and facilitating purchases through technology, has Dr. Calvert concerned, particularly because no research is being done to sort these issues out.

Selected Bibliography

Calvert, Sandra L., and Amy B. Jordan. "Children in the Digital Age." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 22, no. 1 (2001): 3-5.

Calvert, Sandra L., Jennifer A. Kotler, William F. Murray, Edward Gonzales, Kristin Savoye, Phillip Hammack, Susan Weigert, Erin Shockey, Christine Paces, Melissa Friedman, and Matthew Hammar. "Children's Online Reports About Educational and Informational Television Programs." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 22, no. 1 (2001): 103-17.

Calvert, Sandra L. Children's Journeys through the Information Age. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College, 1999.

Calvert, Sandra L. and R.L. Billingsley. "Young children's recitation and comprehension of information presented by songs." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 19, no. 1 (1998) 97-108.

Calvert, Sandra L. and S.L. Tan. "Impact of virtual reality on young adults' physiological arousal and aggressive thoughts: Interaction versus observation." Interacting with Video, P.M. Greenfield and R.R. Cocking (Eds). Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1996.

Calvert, Sandra L. "Developmental differences in children's production and recall of information as a function of computer presentational features." Journal of Educational Computing Research 10, (1994) 131-143.

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