Heather KirkorianLaura M. Secord Chair in Early Childhood Development, Department Chair; Faculty Director Child Development Lab, Professor

My research interests lie at the intersection of cognitive development, media effects, and family studies. I am Director of the Cognitive Development and Media Lab, where my students and I study the impact of screen media on attention, learning, and play in infants and young children. We use behavioral, observational, and psychophysiological research methods to examine moment-to-moment changes in children’s responses to media. We also consider how research can inform the design of educationally valuable media and empower parents to use these media effectively with young children. View my TEDx talk on interactive media and young children.

Recent press

Learning doesn’t stop when schools closeWisconsin State Journal, March 29, 2020
The rise of location trackers for kids as young as 3New York Times, March 5, 2020
Why does children’s TV seem so ridiculous and addictive?The Independent, December 30, 2019
YouTube tweaked algorithm to appease FTC but creators are worriedBloomberg, August 8, 2019

Selected Publications

Barr, R. F., Kirkorian, H. L., Radesky, J., Coyne, S., Nichols, D., Blanchfield, O., et al. (2020). Beyond screen time: A synergistic approach to a more comprehensive assessment of family media exposure. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1283.

Kirkorian, H. L., Choi, K., & Anderson, D. R. (2019). American parents’ active involvement mediates the impact of background television on young children’s toy play. Journal of Children and Media, 19, 377-394.

Kirkorian, H. L., & Anderson, D. R. (2018). Effect of sequential video shot comprehensibility on attentional synchrony: A comparison of children and adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, 9867-9874

Kirkorian, H. L. (2018). When and how do interactive digital media help children connect what they see on and off the screen? Child Development Perspectives, 12, 210-214.

Kirkorian, H. L., Choi, K., & Pempek, T. A. (2016). Toddlers’ word learning from contingent and noncontingent video on touchscreens. Child Development, 87, 405-413.


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development and Family Studies


  • Child Development Lab
  • Psychology Department
  • Educational Psychology Department
  • McPherson Eye Research Institute
  • Institute of Digital Media and Child Development


  • PhD and MS, Developmental Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • BA, Psychology, University of New Hampshire at Durham


Office: 4105 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-263-4020



Social media: