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Speaker Biographies

Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH

A pediatrician, researcher, and parent, Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH is the George Adkins Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington; director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute; and an attending pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Christakis graduated from Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He is the author of more than 200 original research articles, a textbook of pediatrics, and The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids (Rodale, 2006). In 2010, he was awarded the Academic Pediatric Association’s APA Research Award for outstanding contributions to pediatric research over his career. His passion is developing actionable strategies to optimize the cognitive, emotional, and social development of children. The pursuit of that passion has taken him from the exam room to the community and, most recently, to cages of newborn mice. His laboratory focuses on the effects of early environmental influences on child health and development, and his work has been featured in major national and international news outlets. Dr. Christakis speaks frequently to international audiences of pediatricians, parents, educators, and policymakers about the impact of early learning on brain development. He is proud to have served on the Advisory Board for Children and Screens since it started.

Pam Hurst-Della Pietra, DO

Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, DO is the founder and president of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, a national not-for-profit organization supporting interdisciplinary, evidence-based scientific research on the impacts of digital media on toddlers, children, and adolescents. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor in Health Care Policy and Management in the School of Health Technology and Management at Stony Brook Medicine. She organized the field’s first national interdisciplinary conference, “Digital Media and Developing Minds,” with the National Academy of Sciences in late 2015, bridging the medical, neuroscientific, and social sciences communities. The conference culminated in the creation of 24 working groups consisting of 140 experts from different disciplines to examine the implications of children’s media use on cognitive, psychological, and physical development, as well as its effects on families and society. As a result, a comprehensive research agenda was developed, which is laid out in the November 1, 2017, issue of Pediatrics, a special supplement made possible through the support of Children and Screens. A philanthropist with a background in pediatrics, Dr. Hurst-Della Pietra has supported children’s causes for the last 15 years, including a new Children’s Hospital at Stony Brook, Long Island. Dr. Hurst-Della Pietra has supported numerous other national children’s causes and has been honored by several organizations. Recently, she has begun speaking to national and regional audiences on the topic of children and media effects. Early in her career, Dr. Hurst-Della Pietra worked in television post-production for children’s educational programs, such as Sesame Street.

Amy Joyce

For more than 20 years, Amy Joyce has worked at the Washington Post, where she has covered workplace issues (writing the weekly Life at Work column, as well as the book I Went to College for This?: How to Turn Your Job Into a Career You Love) and edited the Weekend section and where she is now the editor of and a writer for the On Parenting section. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Steven Ginsberg, the Post’s national editor (the two met there when they were both copy aides), and their sons, who are 10 and 7.

Kathryn Montgomery, PhD

Kathryn Montgomery, PhD is a professor in the School of Communication at American University and is the founding director of the PhD program, which is focused on the intersections of media, technology, and democracy. During the 1990s, as president and co-founder of the nonprofit Center for Media Education, she spearheaded the campaign that led to passage of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Dr. Montgomery has written two books: Target: Prime Time — Advocacy Groups and the Struggle Over Entertainment Television (Oxford University Press, 1989); and Generation Digital: Politics, Commerce, and Childhood in the Age of the Internet (MIT Press, 2007), as well as numerous articles and reports. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she recently completed a research project on health wearables and consumer privacy. She holds a PhD in film and television studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Montgomery serves as chairperson of the Privacy workgroup for Children and Screens.

Kaveri Subrahmanyam, PhD

Kaveri Subrahmanyam, PhD is chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and associate director of the Children’s Digital Media Center @ Los Angeles, UCLA/Cal State LA. In 2013, she was a recipient of Cal State LA’s Outstanding Professor Award. Dr. Subrahmanyam is a nationally recognized expert on interactive media’s role in the lives of children and families, and her papers have received more than 6,000 Google Scholar citations. Her research has focused on the cognitive and social implications of interactive media use. Dr. Subrahmanyam conducted one of the first training studies showing the effects of computer game use on spatial skills and subsequently studied the developmental implications of chat rooms, blogs, social networking sites, and virtual worlds, with a focus on the development of identity and intimacy. Currently, she is examining the relationship between digital communication and well-being: Using both daily diary and correlational survey designs, she is investigating the relationships between face-to-face and digital interactions and well-being, sleep, and academic performance among college students. Another strand of her research uses experimental studies to investigate the cognitive implications of digital screens and multitasking on executive function, learning, and memory among young children and college students. Finally, she is examining the relationships between parents’ and children’s home media use and children’s sleep, behavior problems, and oral language development. Dr. Subrahmanyam has published numerous research articles and book chapters on youth and digital media; her research has been published in top journals of the field, such as Developmental Psychology and Child Development. She has co-edited a special issue on social networking for the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (2008) and a special section on interactive media and human development for Developmental Psychology (2012). She is a co-author (with Dr. David Smahel) of Digital Youth: The Role of Media in Development (Springer, 2010). Dr. Subrahmanyam serves as co-chair of the Cognitive Impacts workgroup for Children and Screens.

Ellen Wartella, PhD

Ellen A. Wartella, PhD studies the role of media in children’s development. She is the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Communication, director of the Center on Media and Human Development, and chair of the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. She holds courtesy faculty appointments in the Department of Psychology, Department of Medical Social Sciences, and Department of Human Development and Social Policy. Dr. Wartella is currently co-principal investigator on a 5-year multisite research project, “Collaborative Research: Using Educational DVDs to Enhance Children’s STEM Education (2013–2018),” from the National Science Foundation. She serves on several national and international boards, including the Children and Screens National Scientific Advisory Board, the Public Good Projects, World Summit on Children and Media, and the Consumer Goods Forum.