VJR Consulting is an independent consulting firm specializing in research, policy, and strategic communications work for non-profits. Special areas of focus include conducting high-quality research on youth and media, and developing and evaluating media campaigns on social issues. We design and direct public opinion and media research, write reports, develop policy positions, conduct strategic planning, convene high-level events, and plan media campaigns. We operate at the intersection of issues, research, and communications. Read More >
The Digital Lives of African American Tweens, Teens, and Parents: Innovating and Learning with Technology. Funded by the Gates Foundation, this study surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 African-American teen-parent dyads, on attitudes toward and use of computers and other digital technology. Our conclusion? "The shortage of young African Americans going into tech or STEM fields does not appear to be due to a lack of interest in, enjoyment of, or confidence about using computers. African American youth enjoy learning about new technology, they enjoy using computers, and they have done a lot with computers. But they have a great unmet interest in learning more about computers. There is no lack of aspiration on young people's parts - but the adults, educators, and policymakers in their lives now need to do their part to build the environments that will catalyze those aspirations." Read about the study in Ebony and Education Week. Also, check out the full report for data on parents' and teens' computer confidence, encounters with racist or sexist content online, and interest or experience in coding - and it's all broken out by age, gender, and socio-economic status.
This comprehensive survey of 2,658 8- to 18-year-olds documents which media activities they enjoy most, how often they engage in each activity, and the average amount of time they spend with each activity per day. The study covers TV, online videos, social media, video games, computer games, mobile games, surfing the Internet, listening to music, and reading. In addition, the study documents the devices young people use to access those media, including time spent using smartphones, computers and tablets. Data are provided separately for tweens (8- to 12-year-olds) and teens (13- to 18-year-olds), and are broken out by gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Download the executive summary or full report. Watch the video of Vicky Rideout's presentation of the key findings, and a panel discussion moderated by former White House press secretary Mike McCurry, featuring FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, Northwestern University Professor Ellen Wartella, Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer, and Ms. Rideout. Read the New York Times article about the study.
VJR Consulting directed this nationally-representative telephone survey on digital access. The survey, conducted among low- and moderate-income parents, explored issues of digital access, and documented the challenges of the “under-connected” – those without home broadband, or whose home connection is slow or inconsistent. The full survey findings are available here. The data were released at an event at New America, featuring remarks from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Listen to the NPR story on All Things Considered, read the USA Today article about the findings, check out the commentary in EdSurge from Google's global education evangelist Jaime Casap, read the op-ed from London's Financial Times, or hear the interview with study co-authors Vicky Rideout and Vikki Katz on KQED’s Forum. Learn more about the project here.
Teens, Health, and Technology: A National Survey
June 2015, for Northwestern University
If there is one thing that defines the current generation of teenagers, it is the degree to which they are always “connected”—spending vast amounts of time using social media, surfing the web, watching YouTube videos, Tweeting, and using apps.
The teenage years are also a time when young people grapple with a multitude of health concerns, ranging from puberty to obesity to drug and alcohol use. Yet this is the first study we are aware of in nearly 15 years to survey a large, nationally-representative sample of teens to document how they use the Internet for health information. And it is the only national survey we know of to document teens’ use of newer technologies for health, such as mobile apps, social networking sites, and wearable devices. Read the Study >
In the News
Study: Nearly third of teens changed health habits based on online search
Washington Post - June 7, 2015. "...a lot of teens are grappling with very real, very important health challenges and...the Internet is empowering them with the information they need to take better care of themselves,” said Vicky Rideout, a co-author of the study. Read the Article >
Teenagers Seek Health Information Online, but Don't Always Trust It
New York Times - June 7, 2015. "One in three teenagers said they changed their behavior because of what they had learned from online sites or apps..." "[The study] shows that teenagers can be independent and empowered actors in taking care of their own health,” said Vicky Rideout, a media and health researcher who designed the survey. Read the Article >
Research Brief on Children, Teens, and Reading, May, 2014.
This research brief for Common Sense Media documents a dramatic drop in reading among teens in recent years, coupled with a persistent achievement gap in reading between White and minority youth. Download a copy of the report here, read Frank Bruni’s impassioned column in the New York Times, listen to NPR’s story, or read other coverage from The Washington Post, TIME, or Reuters.
Ever since the dawn of electronic media, educators and children’s advocates have been working to maximize its use as a tool for children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. This study for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center explores just what portion of children’s screen media consumption is educational, and how parents view the benefits of educational media. Download a copy of the report, watch a video of Vicky discussing the findings, view the edWeb webinar in which Vicky and the Cooney Center’s Michael Levine present findings from the reportNew York TimesSA TodayWashington Post.
The media environment for children and teens has changed dramatically in recent years, and so, too, has the advertising environment – perhaps even more so. Advertising to youth now includes product placement, immersive websites, advergaming, viral marketing, mobile ads, social-media marketing, and precise behavioral and geographic targeting. The purpose of this report is to inventory the new techniques being used, and to review what we do and don’t know about the extent of children’s exposure to advertising through media. Download a copy of the report, or read coverage in US News & World Report Christian Science Monitor.
Even a casual observer of children and families today knows big changes are afoot when it comes to children and new media technologies. This report, based on the results of a large-scale, nationally representative survey, documents for the first time exactly how big those changes are. Read the report, or the story that ran in the Washington Post or the New York Times.
Toddlers and Tablets: Way of the Future?
June 5, 2013, ABC News Nightline
A survey (Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology) by Northwestern's School of Communication of 2,300 parents of children aged to 8-years-old found that 37 percent of parents still report they are likely to use their tablet or smartphone to entertain their kids, despite the fact that 54 percent worry their children's use of mobile devices had a negative impact on their physical activity. Read More >
Most Parents Show Little Worry About Media Use, Survey Says
June 4, 2013. New York Times
Do parents worry about the growing amount of time their children spend with media? One new study suggests that most parents are largely unconcerned. And perhaps no wonder: Parents who show little concern about their children’s use of technology themselves spend big chunks of their leisure time with media. The study’s co-author, Vicky Rideout, an independent researcher who over the last decade has done pioneering research into patterns of technology use, said she was surprised to find that 59 percent of the 2,300 parents surveyed were not worried... Read Article >
Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives
June 26, 2012: Read the new study we directed and wrote for Common Sense Media, about how teens think social media impacts their social and emotional well-being.