Focus on Technology: Media Literacy/Internet Safety and Children and 2013 APA Convention

Focusing on Media Literacy/Internet Safety and Children and 2013 APA Convention

Mary Karapetian Alvord, PhD

The 2013 Division 46 Presidential Initiatives were to highlight technology generally, and to focus on media literacy and online safety, especially with respect to children.

What Is Media Literacy? 

Definitions for media literacy are numerous; skills required vary with cultural and geographic differences. Common to many of these characterizations is the ability to evaluate and understand the media so as to use the various forms safely and prudently.  Thus, one purpose for promoting and teaching media literacy is to empower children, teens, and parents to use digital and other forms of media safely and judiciously.

As part of the effort to disseminate the understanding of online safety, we interviewed three prominent leaders in the field and posted them on our website.  The first videoconference interview with Stephen Balkam, CEO, Family Online Safety Institute, an international organization, discussed ways of promoting online safety for children and their families through research, programs and resources.  The second was an audio interview with Sonja Livingstone, social psychologist and professor in the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics.  She currently directs a 33-country-wide study in the European Union, EUKIDSONLINE to better understand children’s use of the online world, risks and resilience.  (  The third videoconference video was with Renee Hobbs, professor at the Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island.  She provides her views of the inter-related skills necessary for positive online interactions:  ACCESS, Analysis, Create and Collaborate, Reflect, and Take Action.  She states, “We have come a long way, baby!”  Special thanks for interview questions submitted by the New Technologies subcommittee on Media Literacy (Fran Blumberg, Jerri Lynn Hogg, Pam Rutledge and Sharon Tettegah).

Please visit the Division 46 website and see and listen to these respected leaders.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

In 1998, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to give parents more control over what information was being collected about their children (under age 13) while online.

On September 1, 2013, the FTC revised COPPA rule took effect.  The definition of “personal information” collected by websites, mobile apps, and other online sites, was expanded to include visual and audio images of children and location information in addition to the user’s name, address, online contact information, phone number, and social security number.  The newer rule specifies how parental consents are obtained and verified for children under the age of 13.  To read the revised COPPA rules, visit

2013 APA Convention

We experienced an extremely successful and productive convention in Hawaii!  Many thanks go to convention co-chairs Jerri Lynn Hogg and Fran Blumberg.

Some highlights.  Division 46 co-sponsored a symposium with the Military Division (19), which was part of Don Bersoff’s presidential initiative, titled Apps, Telehealth, Virtual Reality: Addressing Mental Health Needs of Service Men and Women and Veterans.  Presenters wrote articles for the 2013 Spring issue of the Amplifier on Mobile Apps (Hoffman and Kuhn), and for this issue on Virtual Reality (Reger), Home-based Telehealth (Shore) and the Ethics of Integrating Technology into Practice (Barnett).

My presidential address focused on Innovative Applications of Emerging Technologies in Media Psychology.  Two articles were written for the 2013 Spring Amplifier by presenters: Videoconferencing (Alvord) and Augmented Reality (Pase).  Michael Evans, Virginia Tech University, presented an invited address on his research on enhancing learning through use of the iPad; Sharon Tettegah described her research with text-based and animated multimedia social simulations to examine social cognitions and personal identities; and, Bernie Luskin conceptualized media psychology broadly in the field of psychology.

Division 46 members presented other outstanding symposia and posters.

Finally, we displayed Augmented Reality posters (designed and implemented by Shane Pase) for all Division 46 symposia!!!  And, the APA wrote a blog about AR and interviewed Division 46 participants (

In-Suite Programming and Social Hours(s)

For the Hawaii convention, Bernie Luskin and I reserved a suite that allowed our Division to host in-suite programming, meetings and social hour.  Special programming included talks by Lisa Firestone on “Practical Applications of New Media for Mental Health Professionals” and Pam Rutledge on “Integrating technologies for developing a professional practice or organizational brand, from social media to mobile apps.”

Bernie Luskin hosted a student meeting and our Positive Media and Creative Writing Special Interest Groups also met.

Our social hour was a great success. It included a student-only cash raffle, raffle items donated by some of our division’s generous members, an hour-long Augmented Reality (Pase) tech demo, and motivational games on the iPad (Evans).  I wish to thank our sponsors: and Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.  This was the first time we had a marketing and sponsorship committee (chaired by Pauline Wallin).  I hope we continue with this committee and that you will spread the word to potential sponsors of the advantages of sponsoring a Division 46 event!

Finally, this is my last column as Division’s President.  It has been an honor to serve in this capacity.  Without the teamwork of the Presidential quartet, executive board, board chairs, committee members, students (who managed our social media), we could not have accomplished as much.  I look forward to my year as Awards Chair (see announcement in this issue) to honor our worthy members.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

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