About Pam Rutledge

Pamela Rutledge, PhD, is a scholar-practitioner, integrating her expertise in media psychology with 20+ years as a media producer. A member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University since 2008, Dr. Rutledge teaches in the areas of brand psychology, audience engagement and narrative meaning. Dr. Rutledge consults with entertainment companies, such as 20th Century Fox Films and Warner Bros., on data strategies and audience narratives. Dr. Rutledge has published both academic and popular work, including a text on positive psychology and psychological appeal for fans of the Twilight Saga and resilience in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She has also written book chapters on meaning-making and fandom, transmedia narrative engagement, and positive media psychology. She authors “Positively Media” for Psychology Today and is also a frequent expert source on media use and popular culture for media outlets such as The NY Times, The BBC World and ABC News. She holds a PhD and an MBA.

How to Protect Your Child’s Digital Reputation


Our online behaviors shape how others see us and impact future opportunities. KEY POINTS A digital reputation reflects all your online activity, not just the good stuff. Young people can be especially vulnerable to digital missteps. Hitting the “pause” button before the “send” button can short-circuit online behaviors fueled by emotions. A big part of our world is online and will continue to be so, whether it’s social connection, entertainment, inspiration, professional pursuits, or problem-solving. The first impression we make on others (and vice versa) is often online. We live in a search engine culture with information about people, things, and events [...]

How to Protect Your Child’s Digital Reputation2024-05-14T11:30:52-07:00

How Granfluencers are Breaking Stereotypes on TikTok


Senior TikTok stars are captivating viewers by being funny, smart, and real. KEY POINTS Although it still skews young, there has been a 57% rise in Boomers on TikTok since 2021. Granfluencers' warmth, authenticity, and refusal to "act their age" attracts followers from all generations. Virtual eye contact on TikTok fosters trust, comfort, and emotional ties. Granfluencers break stereotypes, modeling healthy aging, body positivity, and vitality. Now that I’m "Gamma," I am gaining a new perspective on aging. Between professional pressures, social norms, stereotypes, and those sticky, internalized beliefs, it isn’t easy being totally comfortable with aging. But, just as [...]

How Granfluencers are Breaking Stereotypes on TikTok2024-03-28T10:28:09-07:00

AI Doesn’t Change Why Kids Should Learn to Code


Coding prepares kids to be better problem-solvers in the real world. KEY POINTS Coding nurtures problem-solving and creativity in kids. Young coders gain early math and literacy foundations through non-tech play. Middle-childhood coding bolsters logical thinking, spatial reasoning, and team skills. Is coding a necessary competency that kids need to learn? Or does the large specter of AI on the horizon and some grim prognostications have you questioning if signing your kid up for summer coding camp is even relevant? The doomsayers argue that since AI can code better than a human, human coders won’t be needed. That’s a baby-and-bath-water [...]

AI Doesn’t Change Why Kids Should Learn to Code2024-03-22T10:32:13-07:00

Beyond Bans: How Can Teachers Tackle Social Media at School?


Turning digital challenges into educational opportunities through empowerment. KEY POINTS Restricting devices in schools doesn't solve the broader issue of teaching kids to use technology responsibly. Engaging students in conversations about social media encourages critical thinking and safe online behaviors. Collaboratively developed rules and consequences about device use can improve student compliance. Educators are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to technology in the classroom—especially smartphones and social media. They are under pressure to use educational technology to make assignments and materials readily available, communicate with parents, distribute information, create engaging content for students, provide support, and [...]

Beyond Bans: How Can Teachers Tackle Social Media at School?2024-02-29T06:08:36-08:00

The Super Bowl Ad Game: What Makes a Brand Fumble?


Emotions and mental models drive viewer engagement and brand recall. KEY POINTS Audience heuristics, mental models, and expectations determine a commercial's success. Celebrity collaborations can boost brand trust, but they risk the vampire effect without attention to balance. Popularity isn't the same as message effectiveness or behavioral intention. Visual content that conflicts with the brand message undermines the intended impact. Nielson reported that Super Bowl LVIII had 120.3 million viewers, putting it second on the list of most-viewed American television events behind the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing. Emotions ran high with the excitement over a halftime show by Usher [...]

The Super Bowl Ad Game: What Makes a Brand Fumble?2024-02-21T06:34:11-08:00

How Holiday Sharenting Can Put Your Kids at Risk


Online personas crafted by parents can hinder a child's identity development. KEY POINTS Sharenting, even with the best intentions, can violate a child's privacy and disclose personal information. Social media providers have the right to use all content you post to target ads and train algorithms. Sharenting creates a public image that may conflict with a teen's self-image and hinder identity development. The holiday season is in full swing. Parties and family gatherings mean lots of Instagram photo ops. It's easy to get swept up in the fun, but here's a reminder: put down the eggnog and take a breath [...]

How Holiday Sharenting Can Put Your Kids at Risk2023-12-21T10:40:51-08:00

Why Holiday Movies Can Combat Loneliness and Stress


Holiday movies boost our positive emotions and sense of social connection. KEY POINTS Holiday films can elevate spirits and provide an escape from stress. Nostalgia from rewatching favorites kindles warmth and feelings of social support. Family watch parties strengthen bonds, link generations, and create traditions. Holiday movies are here, reminding us that it’s time for the Christmas holidays. Americans rank watching holiday movies as one of their favorite traditions, above tree decorating and cookie baking. I like to check out the lists of "most popular" Christmas movies each year as an ersatz "needs" barometer. Much less scientific than the Belonging [...]

Why Holiday Movies Can Combat Loneliness and Stress2023-12-06T09:13:52-08:00

Leveling Up: Developmental Psych for Setting Video Game Controls


Here's how to set developmentally appropriate video game controls for tweens and teens that support the dynamic nature of a child's growth. KEY POINTS Effective digital parenting adapts to children's maturing needs over time. Tweens benefit from structures that balance gameplay with diverse developmental activities. Young teens need a combination of independence and supportive parental guidance. Teach older teens to self-regulate through discussions and collaborative boundary-setting If you have considered setting parental controls for your kids' video games and gaming systems, the dizzying complexity of today's gaming platforms can be overwhelming, making you hesitant to allow much video gameplay. Yet, [...]

Leveling Up: Developmental Psych for Setting Video Game Controls2023-11-13T15:04:12-08:00

How and Why to Use Parental Controls in Video Games


Parental controls are like training wheels for keeping young players safe. KEY POINTS In spite of parental concerns, gaming can foster resilience, social skills, and cognitive development. Many consoles and gaming ecosystems offer parents multiple levels of control. Parental controls should be like training wheels, providing structure as players mature. Discussing and adapting parental restrictions as kids mature can build trust and teach values. The top questions I get from parents are about screen time, most of them driven by fear. Screen time is today’s bogeyman, the monster under the bed. We blame it for everything from depression and anger to poor body image. Restricting screen time [...]

How and Why to Use Parental Controls in Video Games2023-11-09T09:42:18-08:00

7 Strategies to Help Kids Cope With War Images in the Media


Kids need digital literacy skills when faced with distressing media content. KEY POINTS TikTok is kids’ go-to for news about current events, putting them at risk for misinformation and distress. Videos activate emotion, create social presence and influence beliefs and attitudes. Digital literacy strategies can give kids the necessary skills to manage distressing content. Social media is the main source of news for over half of Americans, particularly for Gen Z. On TikTok, one-third of users are between ages 10 and 19. These young people are getting information from a platform where professional journalists are overrun by opinionated TikTokers and bots. [...]

7 Strategies to Help Kids Cope With War Images in the Media2023-10-30T08:48:36-07:00
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