Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, Ph.D.
Photo by Jaap Vork

I am a Professor in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) where I hold the Chair Communication in the Digital Society. I am the Director of the Center for research on Children, Adolescents, and the Media (CcaM), the Director of the Graduate School of Communication, co-Director of the Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, the faculty lead for the national Human Factor in New Technologies Netherlands sector; and the co-principal investigator of the Youth Digitality Research Priority Area at the University of Amsterdam. I believe strongly in the power of translation, which includes frequent engagement with stakeholders such as the European Commission, Google, Meta, YouTube, European inSafe, and NASA. I also sit on numerous (inter)national boards, including the ODISSEI Management Board, the Wetenschappelijke Raad van het Netwerk Mediawijsheid, and the YouTube Youth and Families Advisory Committee. I enjoy running (often for charity), love dark chocolate and espresso, and I am constantly in search for sunshine despite living in Amsterdam.

Curious to know more? Read more below and click through my website. It’s (somewhat) up to date!

Research Profile. I am media psychologist with a focus on how individual and socio-cultural differences influence media selection, use, processing, and subsequent effects. I am interested in the contexts that support young people’s experiences with digital media, and am particularly focused on identifying risk factors, resiliency factors, and enhancement factors that allow youth to be(come) engaged digital citizens. My work has been funded by Netherlands Organization for or Health Research and Development (ZonMw), the Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties (MinBZK), and other societal partners (totaling >4M). I am a board member for numerous academic journals, and serve as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Communication. Presently, I am deeply interested in understanding digital competence – namely, the digital skills and digital knowledge necessary for benefiting from today’s digital world. For this work, I am funded by the Dutch government (MinBZK) where I have led the development of the DigIQ – a measure of digital competence that is valid with children as young as 10 years old (a version 2.0 is currently in process). Moreover, I am also currently promoting several PhD projects investigating the digital world such as: (1) Project Rosie: the role of virtual assistants in the lives of young children; (2) DigiMe: the opportunities and consequences of digital content for well-being and solitude; (3) Generation AI: developing interventions to counter misinformation in the age of AI; (4) Extended Entertainment: understanding how today’s digital entertainment space might contribute to ‘public connection‘ and what that means for young people; and (5) ChargeYourBrainzzz: developing interventions to support teen sleep health in today’s digital world.

Teaching Profile. As an educator, I believe student motivation is key for educational success. My teaching is anchored in the principles of self-determination theory (e.g). I am a practitioner of research-based teaching, and as such, my educational offerings are connected to my scholarly work. Presently, I most often teach graduate seminars in Digital Media Lifestyles and Emerging Technology. In these classes, students are challenged to take a user-centered perspective as they consider the contributions of digital media to all aspects of daily life; the ethical ramifications of digital media; and recommended practices in design. Topics include apps, social robots, virtual reality, chatbots, virtual assistants, and more. It’s not unusual for my students to try their hand at programming chatbots or to develop low fidelity prototypes of apps and games. I encourage my students to go “all-in” to learn about our digital world. Moreover, I encourage my students to question their assumptions, to reflect critically on the literature, and to think ahead about who and where we want to be as a society.

Leadership Approach. I serve in different leadership capacities, but the crux of my approach is reflexivity and community. I enjoy working with teams to respond to challenges, and I find it important to be responsive to the changing world. Presently, I spend a large portion of my time leading the Graduate School of Communication – which includes a premaster programme; a 1-year Master programme; a 2-year Research Master programme; a dual-degree programme in journalism; and supporting educational training for PhD students. Such a task would not be possible without a strong trust in team. During my term, I have been proud to work with the GSC team to renovate and reinvigorate our degree programmes so that they continue to respond to the dynamically changing needs of students and society. For example, we have a new focus on Good Research Practices in our Research Master programme; an integrated the theme of digital society into the school’s curriculum vision; and strengthened our extracurricular training in academic writing in our Master programme. Similar approaches can also be seen in how I support the Teaching & Learning Center– from our response to the Covid crisis to our international classroom support or our current efforts with AI – I find it important to be able to pivot where necessary while still aligning with the overall vision. This means relying on the talents of many; being willing to try new ideas; and remembering to laugh along the way.

Translation. I believe in the power of translation – from research to teaching; teaching to research; research to practice; and more. I believe we do best when we lean into these links. And I try to practice what I preach – which means I’m regularly on the road sharing scholarship with stakeholders; bringing research into the classroom; publishing my work in a range of outlets; and serving on a range of advisory boards. My work on the YouTube Youth and Families Advisory Committee is a great reflection of my approach to translation, and I’m particularly proud to have helped develop the quality principles for the space. As a researcher, I also believe in open science as an important means of sharing our work. This includes publishing my co-authored book Plugged In: How Media Attract and Affect Youth (Yale University Press, 2017) open access, which still remains one of the works I am most proud of.