Dr. Ellen A. Wartella
Dean and Professor of Communications
University of Texas at Austin


Interview Date


Current research areas

Key Quote

  • "Over the course of the twentieth century, at least in the developed world, one can demonstrate that on every measure of physical health and development, children's lives have been improved. More children, in the developed world, grow to adulthood. They are living longer. They are taller, healthier but on just about any measure, their mental health has gotten worse. There are higher incidences of depression in children, higher incidences of all kinds of mental health problems we hadn't seen before. How do you account for that except via culture questions and social questions? I would argue that the kind of media environment children live in, where all kinds of violence and horrible things about the world are coming into their lives at ages where they can't cope, is playing a big role."

Key Points/Issues

Ultimately, Dr. Wartella says, "we need combinations of good public and private work. I don't think this work can be done without the involvement of industry. Good things we learn need to lead to good products for kids, and if we find problems. . . those should be set into design issues. In fact, what I am most concerned about is how you move the knowledge gained in the university into action in the real-world." While the social science academic community does not currently have good models on how to develop mutually-beneficial relationships with industry, this critical link must be forged, because "academics need access to the latest technologies for research and designers need access to the research inform to develop strong, healthy designs."

Selected Bibliography

Wartella, E., and N. Jennings. The role of computers in children's lives. The Future of Children: Children and Computer Technology, 10(2), 31-43, 2001.

Wartella, E., and N. Jennings. "Hazards and Possibilities of Commercial TV in the Schools." In D. G.Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of Children and the Media. (pp. 557-570). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2001.

Wartella, E. Developmental Aspects of Children's Learning from Interactive Media: A Research Review. Paper presented at the International Forum of Researchers on Young People and the Media, Sydney, Australia November 2000.

Wartella, E., B. O'Keefe and R. Scantlin. Children and Interactive Media: A Research Compendium, prepared for the Markle Foundation, October, 2000.

Wartella, E. "Electronic Childhood." Media Studies Journal 8:4, 33-43, 1994.

Wartella, E., and S. Mazzarella. "An Historical Comparison of Children's Use of Time with Media: 1920s to 1980s." In R. Butsch (Ed.), For Fun and Profit, 173-194. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.

Wartella, E. "Television, Cognition and Learning." In M. Manley-Casimir and C. Luke (Eds.), Children and Television, 3-14. New York: Praeger, 1987.

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