Digital Screens: Developmental and Cognitive Consequences (PSY4383.01)

Emily Waterman & Blake Jones

Many organizations estimate that children spend up to six or more hours per day looking at screens. Screens are ubiquitous in multiple settings including school and home. This course is dedicated to a rigorous reading of the research and scientific literature on children’s screen time. We will explore social, cognitive, and developmental effects of screen time, integrating literature from multiple fields (developmental psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, sociology). We will discuss various methods used to study this topic (e.g., correlational and longitudinal studies, fMRI) and critique the research. We will discuss various potential mechanisms for the observed negative effects of screen time (e.g., lack of social interaction, sedentary behavior, harmful content, circadian disruption, etc.), as well the potential benefits of screen time. 

Learning Outcomes:
1: Students will be able to describe current trends in screen time use among children as well as consequences and benefits.
2: Students will be able to describe mechanisms behind the negative consequences of screen time for children.
3: Students will finish the course with an evidence-based critique of (or agreement with) the recommended amount of screen time for children put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
4. Students will gain experience analyzing and critiquing peer-reviewed literature in the natural and social sciences.
5. Students will learn foundational concepts in sociology, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Students should submit a statement of interest to both Emily Waterman ( and Blake Jones ( explaining how this course will be useful to their Plan and academic goals.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (1st seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Biology , First Seven Week , Fully In-Person , Psychology , Two Credit
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