"The distinction between correlation and causation is not a mere technicality to acknowledge before moving on to a pre-ordained conclusion; it is fundamental to a correct interpretation of the work." Read Vicky Rideout's response to Jean Twenge's provocative Atlantic article on the London School of Economics' Parenting for a Digital Future blog.

Read Vicky Rideout's comments about teens and smart phones in the August 2018 issue of the Atlantic


The second wave of Social Media, Social Life - a survey of teen social media use for Common Sense Media;

A survey with University of Texas Professor Craig Watkins about Millennials' use of social media for social and political engagement;

An evaluation of a pro-social media campaign for the Clinton Foundation's Too Small to Fail;

And more - stay tuned!  


Given the variety of activities children can undertake on their phones and tablets, does it make sense to talk about "screen time" any more?  And in this transmedia world, how can we effectively measure children's media usage - or should we even bother to try? 

Read Vicky Rideout's commentary in the Journal of Children and Media on why it does make sense to continue doing our best to measure the time children and teens spend with various types of media, using quantitative, nationally representative, probabilistic samples - despite the many challenges of doing so.  The article includes lots of key data from the recent Common Sense Census: Media Use By Tweens and Teens, now available in an academic journal. 


danah boyd puts the 'spotlight' on Vicky Rideout in the International Communications Association's newsletter for the Division on Children, Adolescents & Media 

read the interview >

Watch Politico's behind-the-scenes video about Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic Convention speech, including an interview with Vicky Rideout, director of speech writing for the Convention. 


Advertising to Children and Teens:  A Common Sense Media Research Brief.

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 or The Christian Science Monitor.

The Common Sense Census:  Media Use By Tweens and Teens

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.

Just out: The next wave of the Common Sense Census: Media Use By Kids Age Zero to Eight (2017).  We surveyed more than 1,400 parents to document the amount of time children spend engaged in various media activities, as well as their access to and use of media devices.  The survey is the third in a series of tracking studies measuring changes over time.  Media activities include watching TV and online videos, playing video games, listening to music, reading, and other digital activities.  Devices include television, smartphones, tablets, computers, e-books, and video game players - and we even look at the newest trends such as Virtual Reality, virtual assistants (think Siri or Alexa), and the "internet of toys."  Download a copy of the Executive Summary or Full Report.  Listen to NPR's story on the survey, watch CNN's Headline News piece about the study, or read coverage from USA TodayEdWeek, or EdSurge.

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.

Learning at Home: Families’ Educational Media Use in America
Since 1999, a series of studies undertaken by academic experts, consumer advocates like Common Sense Media, and philanthropies such as the MacArthur Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts has documented the rise of media consumption by youth. More research, however, should be done on children during the preschool and middle-childhood periods, which scholars in child development, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience have pointed to as critical for all that follows. Surely a real understanding of the new norms of behavior among younger children and their families in what we at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center have termed “the digital Wild West” will help prepare educators, parents, and policymakers... Read More >

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America for Common Sense Media, Fall, 2013.

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.

Parenting in the Age of Digital Technology is a survey of 2,300 parents of children aged 8 or under, conducted by VJR Consulting for Northwestern University's Center on Media and Human Development.  The New York Times article on the study calls Vicky Rideout "an independent researcher who over the last decade has done pioneering research into patterns of technology use." ABC News also covered the study in a piece called Toddlers and Tablets: Way of the Future?


Children, Teens and Entertainment Media: The View from the Classroom
October, 2012.  Read the New York Times story on the national survey of teachers we directed for Common Sense Media, about how teachers view the impact of entertainment media on students’ academic skills and social development.   Download the full report or visit Common Sense Media’s research library for more of their work.  

Digital Literacy and Citizenship:  The Teacher’s Perspective
This survey snapshot for Common Sense Media surveys teachers regarding how they assess their students’ digital skills. Download Survey >


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. Download Report >
Download Infographic >

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America
October 2011: Having an accurate understanding of the role of media in children’s lives is essential for all of those concerned about promoting healthy child development: parents, educators, pediatricians, public health advocates, and policymakers, to name just a few. The purpose of this study is to provide publicly accessible, reliable data about media use among children ages 0 to 8, to help inform the efforts of all of those who are working to improve children’s lives. Read More >


Click here to watch Vicky Rideout’s presentation of data about media use among children ages 0-8. 


Children, Media, and Race: Media Use Among White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American Children
June 2011, Northwestern University Study
This report documents differences in the role of media in the lives of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian children in the United States: which types of media they use, how much time they spend in various media activities, which media platforms and devices they own, and what the media environment is like in their households. The data presented here are the result of new analyses of two data sets, breaking out the findings by race and ethnicity: the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Generation M2 survey of media use among 8- to18-year-olds, and the Foundation’s 2006 survey about media use among children age six and under (The Media Family). Read More >

Conference on children, media and race for Northwestern
June 8, 2011, Washington, D.C.
How should we interpret, explain and understand the differences in media use by children of different races and ethnicities? What are the broad implications for young people and society? These were the questions that Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development wanted to address at its annual Lambert Family Communications Conference.  VJR Consulting brought together a lively and eclectic group of experts ranging from Federal Communications Commission member Mignon Clyburn to the head of MTV’s Latino network MTVTr3s and the Deputy Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.  Click here to see the agenda for the conference.

Protecting Our Kids’ Privacy in a Digital World: A Common Sense Policy Brief
December 2010, Common Sense Media
Most kids today live their lives online, immersed in a mobile and digital landscape. This brave new world has revolutionized childhood. Kids and teens now create and consume enormous amounts of online and mobile content. Their access to people and information presents both possibilities and problems. While the Internet is a platform for innovation and economic growth and brings rich resources for entertainment and learning, the very nature of digital interaction creates deep concerns about kids’ privacy.

Today, our kids are growing up in public. Whatever they text or post can be searched, copied, pasted, distributed, collected, and viewed by vast invisible audiences. Parents rightly fear that their children’s activities and personal information are being tracked and traced. Read More >