We research and develop media for young children.
The Developmental Media Lab is a collaboration of the Behavioral Analysis of Beginning Years (BABY) Lab directed by Jennifer L. Miller and the Humanities and Technology Lab directed by Carly A. Kocurek. Kocurek and Miller are based at the Illinois Institute of Technology located in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago. Their collaboration was sparked by a chance conversation about Sesame Street.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
— Mr. Rogers
We take an interdisciplinary, community-focused approach to researching and developing media. Our current projects include ongoing studies of children's television, apps, and toys, and the development and evaluation of an experimental learning game for 2-3 year olds. No matter what we do, we focus on incorporating best practices from a diversity of fields, most centrally developmental psychology and media studies.
Children use media. They watch television, read and are read books, play games on tablets, and pull up kitten videos on phones. While media technologies are part of daily life for most children, not enough is known about how media use affects children or what and how children learn from media. We conduct rigorous research into children's media and the surrounding culture to ensure that parents, educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders have the best understanding possible of how and what children learn from their increasingly media-rich environments. We want to go beyond blanket recommendations to help provide specific understanding.
of children 24-36 months of age use screen media more than 2 hours daily
of children ages 0 to 8 live in households with access to mobile devices
of children under age 2 use mobile devices
While children's media has a history decades old, the landscape is ever evolving. The tablets, smart phones, and electronic toys children play with today can make their earlier counterparts look quaint, even as media forms like movies and television remain important to consider. At present, digital technologies, particularly portable touchscreen devices, are playing an increasingly important role.
We are currently welcoming qualified undergraduate and graduate-level researchers to our lab, and we are also open to collaborations with peers at other academic institutions and in the media industry. If you are a parent or early childhood educator, consider participating in one of our ongoing studies or feel free to get in touch if you would like to know more about our past findings or current projects.