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Journal Issue: Children and Computer Technology Volume 10 Number 2 Fall/Winter 2000

Children and Computers: New Technology - Old Concerns
Ellen Wartella Nancy Jennings


  1. Wartella, E., and Reeves, B. Historical trends in research on children and the media: 1900–1960. Journal of Communication (Spring 1985) 35:118–33. This article summarizes observations based on a review of 242 academic studies published between 1900 and 1960 about the effects of media on children.
  2. Turow, J. The Internet and the family: The view from parents, the view from the press. Philadelphia: Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, May 1999.
  3. Davis, R.E. Response to innovation: A study of popular argument about new mass media. New York: Arno Press, 1976. (Dissertation originally prepared in 1965.)
  4. See note no. 3, Davis, p. 14.
  5. Lathrop, G.P. From an article in Harper's Weekly. June 13, 1891, pp. 446–47; see also note no. 3, Davis, p. 13.
  6. Mitchell, A. Children and movies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1929, pp. 6, 147–48.
  7. The Outlook. June 20, 1914, p. 185; see also note no. 3, Davis, p. 20.
  8. See note no. 1, Wartella and Reeves, pp. 120–21.
  9. Eisenberg, A.L. Children and radio programs: A study of more than three thousand children in the New York metropolitan area. New York: Columbia University Press, 1936, pp. 3–31.
  10. Herzog, H. Children and their leisure time listening to the radio. New York: Radio Council on Children's Programs, 1941; see also note no. 1, Wartella and Reeves, p. 122.
  11. See note no. 1, Wartella and Reeves, pp. 122–23.
  12. See note no. 3, Davis, p. 335, quote from Nation's Business.
  13. Schramm, W., Lyle, J., and Parker, E. Television in the lives of our children. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961, pp. 2–7.
  14. See note no. 3, Davis, pp. 39–40.
  15. See note no. 13, Schramm, Lyle, and Parker, pp. 11–12.
  16. Murray, J.P. Television and youth: 25 years of research and controversy. Boys Town, NE: The Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development, 1980, pp. 11–24.
  17. Huston, A.C., and Wright, J.C. Mass media and children's development. In Handbook of child psychology: Child psychology in practice. Vol. 4, 5th ed. W. Damon, I.E. Sigel, and K.A. Renninger, eds. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1998, pp. 999–1058.
  18. See note no. 1, Wartella and Reeves, p. 123; see also Computer kids: Better problem solvers? Parents. July 1983, p. 55; The high-tech teens of computers are hacking out a brave—and frankly, boring—new world. People Weekly. January 2, 1984, p. 142; Levin, G. Computers and kids: The good news; children are learning valuable lessons from machines they can't intimidate or dominate. Psychology Today. August 1985, pp. 50–51; Begole, C. Computers for children. Glamour. January 1985, p. 108; Segal, J., and Segal, Z. Computers and your child. Parents. October 1987, p. 212.; Oppenheim, J. Do your kids need a computer? Parents. October 1985, p. 98.
  19. Wartella, E., and Reeves, B. Recurring issues in research on children and media. Educational Technology (1983) 23:5–9; Wartella, E. The public context of debates about TV and children. In Applied social psychology annual. Vol. 8. S. Oskamp, ed. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1988, pp. 59–69.
  20. Woodard, E. IV, and Gridina, N. Media in the home 2000: The fifth annual survey of parents and children. Philadelphia: Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania, 2000.
  21. Wartella, E., Alexander, A., and Lemish, D. The mass media environment of children. American Behavioral Scientist (September/October 1979) 23:33–52.
  22. Griffiths, M.D. Friendship and social development in children and adolescents: The impact of electronic technology. Educational and Child Psychology (1997) 14:25–37.
  23. Blumer, H., and Hauser, P.M. Movies, delinquency, and crime. New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1970. Originally published in 1933.
  24. Orleans, M., and Laney, M.C. Children's computer use in the home: Isolation or sociation. Social Science Computer Review (Spring 2000) 18:56–72.
  25. Chen, M. A macro focus on microcomputers: Eight utilization and effects issues. In Children and microcomputers: Research on the newest medium. M. Chen and W. Paisley, eds. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1985, pp. 37–58.
  26. Clements, D.H. Computers and young children: A review of research. Young Children (1987) 43:34–44.
  27. Lieberman, D. Research on children and microcomputers: A review of utilization and effects studies. In Children and microcomputers: Research on the newest medium. M. Chen and W. Paisley, eds. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1985, pp. 59–83.
  28. Giacquinta, J.B., Bauer, J., and Levin, J.E. Beyond technology's promise: An examination of children's educational computing at home. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
  29. Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., et al. Internet paradox: A social technology that reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist (1998) 53:1017–31. See the article by Subrahmanyam and colleagues in this journal issue for further discussion of this topic.
  30. Rafaeli, S. Interactivity: From new media to communication. In Advancing communication science: Merging mass and interpersonal processes. R.P. Hawkins, J.M. Wiemann, and S. Pingree, eds. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1988.
  31. Wartella, E. Getting to know you: How children make sense of television. In Inter/media. G. Gumpert and R. Cathcart, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  32. Hollenback, A.R., and Salby, R.G. Infant visual and vocal responses to television. Child Development (1979) 50:41–45.
  33. Lemish, D. The pampered Sesame Street viewer. Unpublished manuscript. University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1984.
  34. Program characters that use these techniques include Mr. Rogers in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (since the 1960s), Steve in Blue's Clues (the 1990s), The Wonder Years (the 1980s), and Malcolm in the Middle (2000).
  35. Papert, S. Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books, 1980.
  36. See note no. 26, Clements; Hyson, M.C. Emotions and the microcomputer: An exploratory study of young children's responses. Computers in Human Behavior (1985) 1:143–52.
  37. Bangert-Drowns, R.L. The word processor as an instructional tool: A meta-analysis of word processing in writing instruction. Review of Educational Research (1993) 63:69–93. Bangert-Drowns describes software along a continuum involving the passivity or activity of the program. Active programs are tools that help users to accomplish goals and involve input from users to express their thoughts and ideas. Examples include Logo, HyperStudio, or Kid Pix—any type of software that the child uses as a tool to express ideas. Conversely, passive programs are those in which the child has little control and follows a specific set of preprogrammed instructions. Some examples of this type of software include drill-and-practice software and software designed for academic achievement testing.
  38. See note no. 35, Papert, p. 5.
  39. See note no. 18, Levin, pp. 50–51.
  40. See note no. 30, Rafaeli; see also Borgh, K., and Dickson, W.P. Two preschoolers sharing one microcomputer: Creating prosocial behavior with hardware and software. In Young children and microcomputers. P.F. Campbell and G.G. Fein, eds. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1986, pp. 37–44.
  41. Wenglinsky, H. Does it compute? The relationship between educational technology and student achievement in mathematics. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, September 1998.
  42. Dvorak, J.C. Consumers' advisory: Get those sick computer games off the market. PC Computing. December 1991, p. 62.
  43. Langendoen, D. Video game ratings—coming soon. Home Office Computing. October 1994, p. 20; see also Silver, M. The rating game. U.S. News and World Report. November 21, 1994, p. 91.
  44. Furger, R. Fun, safe trips down the info highway. PC World. September 1995, p. 400; Teach your children well. U.S. News and World Report. January 23, 1995, p. 60; Peyser, M. Don't “chat” to strangers. Newsweek. June 19, 1995, p. 42; Okrent, D. Raising kids online: What can parents do? Time. May 10, 1999, p. 42. See also Hughes, D.R., and Campbell, P.T. Kids online: Protecting your children in cyberspace. Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1998, which lists six areas as risks for children's online activities: (1) distribution of pornography, (2) sexual predators, (3) misinformation and hidden messages, (4) loss of privacy, (5) unscrupulous vendors, and (6) development of childhood behavior disorders, including social isolation and Internet Addiction Disorder. Further support for these concerns can be found in focus groups conducted with parents. See, for example, Strover, S., Wartella, E., Stout, P., et al. Children and the Internet: Parental concerns and Internet site data. Presentation to a meeting of the Federal Trade Commission's public workshop on consumer information policy. Washington, DC, June 10–13, 1997.
  45. See note no. 2, Turow, p. 34.
  46. See, for example, the Web sites of parent resources provided by the U.S. Department of Education at; The Children's Partnership at; and Children Now at
  47. Wartella, E. Children and television: The development of the child's understanding of the medium. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1979.
  48. Such policies include the following: (1) Advertisers should encourage the child to use an alias (for example, “Bookworm” or “Skater”), first name, nickname, initials, or other alternative to full names or screen names that correspond with an e-mail address for any activities that will involve public posting. (2) If information is collected from children through passive means (for example, navigational tracking tools, browser files), this should be disclosed to the child and the parent along with what information is being collected. Available online at, 2000.
  49. The conference, titled “Supporting Children in the Digital Village: A New Media Industry Roundtable,” was convened in Stanford, CA, on July 5, 2000. For more information about the conference, see the Children Now Web site at
  50. See note no. 1, Wartella and Reeves, pp. 128–29.