Yalda T. Uhls, M.A. MBA, researcher with the Children’s Digital Media Center@LA (CDMC@LA) at UCLA and Regional Director of Common Sense Media’s Los Angeles office, is an informed and personable authority on media effects on children. Her research has been featured in the NY Times, Time Magazine, CBS Los Angeles, KPCC, AOL News and many other news outlets.
Who I am
I am a developmental psychology student, getting a PhD at UCLA, while also conducting research with the Children’s Digital Media Center @LA and working for Common Sense Media in Los Angeles. It’s the perfect blend of the old (see below) and the new, I research technology and media, I learn how it affects children and I share this knowledge with others. There is so much fascinating research out there, I am excited to have the opportunity to share it with other people. OK, at times my kids are my science experiments, but hey, it’s for the good of society.
For my resume, click here.
Who I was
After a media starved childhood in which I felt left out in the cold as friends discussed the latest TV or movies, I made up for lost time by going into a career that required watching TV, films and reading scripts 24/7. I climbed the ladder starting at Sony, moving on to New Line, then to Artisan and finally ending up as a Senior VP at MGM. Along the way, I schmoozed, had power lunches, attended Sundance and Cannes more times that I care to admit, and made some movies I am proud of (and many more that I am not so willing to admit to).
When I had kids I vowed two things: one, never to read another script on Sundays and two, to find a career that offered the potential to impact the lives of families in a positive way. Becoming a psychologist studying this new digital age offers me these opportunities and so much more. This blog reflects my ideas and opinions of the research and not those of anyone else.
My Credits (I still use movie lingo once in a while)
My Family aka Mi Familia (starring Edgar James Olmos, Jimmy Smits and Jennifer Lopez in her first role)
Tree’s Lounge (written and directed by Steve Buscemi, accepted at the Cannes Film Festival)
Permanent Midnight (starring Ben Stiller with Owen Wilson)
Stigmata (starring Gabriel Byrne and Patricia Arquette)
Writing (please see Author page for more complete list)
Back to School, for More.com, 2009
Kids and Multitasking, with Patricia Greenfield for Common Sense Media.com, 2009
Adolescents and Electronic Media, with Patricia Greenfield for Education.com, 2009
Book Review on Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out, with Kaveri Subrahmanyam for Journal of Children and Media, 2010
Chapter: The Internet and other active media, Uhls, Y. T., Espinoza, G., Greenfield, P., Subrahmanym, K., & Šmahel, D. (in press, June 2011). In B. B. Brown & R.Silbereisen (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Adolescence, Oxford: Elsevier.
Uhls, Y.T., & Greenfield, P.M. (2011). The Rise of Fame: An Historical Content Analysis. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 5(1), article 1.
Why I blog:
I love my job and am constantly sharing all the latest research about media and parenting that I learn in my psychology courses, and from the papers I am reading. While at times my friends are fascinated and ask for advice, at other times, their eyes glaze over and I can tell they would rather have a slightly more casual conversation. I am really passionate about this stuff and want to keep sharing, but I also want a social life, so I decided to blog.
More seriously, I realized that parents are starving for this kind of information. The latest statistics report that children, 8-18, use media for 7 1/2 hours a day (Kaiser, 2010). Moreover, if one takes multitasking into account, where kids use more than one screen at the same time, the number jumps to 11 1/2 hours a day!! Crazy right? When I speak to parent communities at schools, I can tell people are confused. What is OK, what is not, what are the facts? Some people look at media through the lens of “we never did it, and it’s ruining our children,” others think “it keeps them out of my hair and at least i know where they are,” and nearly everyone thinks “how can we make sure our children learn from media the skills they will need to succeed in the digital age.” I know from my work that there are actually positives that I want to share with the naysayers, and at the same time, it is very important to educate our children and set rules and guidelines about their media consumption. Finally, I want to share resources and guidance that will prepare our kids to compete in this exciting and innovative world.
My hope is that as a parent, I will not preach from the bench, I can share with you some of my own concerns and missteps as well as real-life experience with my kids.
Disclaimer: When I write articles for the academic community, as a scientist, I must write in a certain way. When I blog, I can be more free, add a sense of humor and not worry that I am putting a little subjectivity into the article. Although this blog presents research, it is my blog and represents my interpretation of the research. I am doing my best to be accurate, grammatically correct and factual, but without the peer review process, I am sure it will not be perfect. I hope it is still useful.