In the Fall of 2014, UT Dallas welcomed Dr. Kristin Drogos into the Emerging Media and Communication program. Dr. Drogos, whose educational background includes degrees in psychology and communication, focuses her research on how new forms of media affect the way children and young adults learn how to socialize and develop. Recently, she gave a talk on the role social networks play in developing a sense of identity in teens.

How would you explain your research focus?

My research focuses on the role of media in the socialization of youth. I am a social scientist who uses quantitative methods such as survey and experiment to study the effects that media have on youth development. I am interested in 1) psychological effects such as self-esteem, well-being, identity development; 2) cognitive effects such as learning; and 3) social effects such as social capital and relational maintenance. I study the range of the developmental spectrum from young toddlers through emerging adults. I am interested in the effects of both traditional mass media outlets, such as television and film, and emerging media platforms, such as social media and other Internet platforms.

Why did you decide to enter your field?

I have always been interested in the complexities of human nature, human psychology, and human behavior. Consequently, I was a psychology major in college and decided to double major in communication my senior year. These two fields complemented one another very nicely. It was during this time that I started to hone in on specific questions about the relationship between human development and mediated communication.  In my communication courses, I learned about how some children spend more time with media than in school.  Given what I knew about developmental psychology, I couldn’t help but think that the media were impacting child development.  After completing a senior honors research thesis in psychology at the University of Illinois, I was hooked on research.  Since graduate school, I have been on a steady path of trying to understand the complexities of the ways that media effect child development.

How has your research influenced your teaching?

My teaching and research are inextricably linked. I think that quality teaching and quality research go hand-in-hand.  My research not only informs the content that I teach, but is the basis for several class projects. For example, students in my Children and Media course replicate a content analysis study of the quality of Educational and Information children’s television that I did in graduate school. I think it is important for students to not only read a lot of research studies, but to also learn what it means to engage the methods used in those studies. Every class I teach encourages students to not only understand the field, but requires them to dive in head-first and produce their own knowledge about the field through their own scientific inquiry.

What do you like most about UTD?

I have found the students at UT Dallas to be talented, engaged, and overall wonderful people. I absolutely love working with students at all levels. They continually inspire me, teach me new things, and motivate me to do my best work.