About Me: Jane Gould, PhD

I am a parent and recent grandparent- but one with a solid research tool box- trying to make sense of how technology changes our lives. I have studied the intersection of telecommunications and technology since graduate school. I have written academically and done a fair share of number crunching. But, I am at my best when I write journalistically and make research findings more interpretable for a general audience.

Dear Smartphone, the column, began in 2018 with a boatload of ideas about how smartphones were radically altering our collective experience of empathy, relationships, and parenting. The column was inspired by two separate projects I was involved with. First, was a media campaign to reach drivers about the dangers of driving with smartphones and not paying full attention to the road. The second project, the Zen Phone, instructed adults learners in digital literacy. One of the specific aims was to help them be mindful with technology when it was at the hub and center of their family life. In 2023 I updated the column and the website name to BeMobileSmart in order to emphasize how mobility is at the root of the many changes and disruptions we experience. We often do not see, and mislabel, the source.

I have wanted to draw more attention to this issue and highlight how the merger of transportation and telecommunications is reframing our generational relationships, and particularly how we raise children and teens. I began studying the existing literature and doing interviews with educators, physicians, and parents. Now in draft form, my book, called The Telephant in the Room is a wake-up call for parents and younger people. The working subtitle might be “The Kids Are Not Alright.”

I speak with some experience as a parent. My two oldest sons were born in the nineteen eighties when phones were still corded and parents could control TV viewing time by the time of day a favorite program aired. My youngest son was born in 1999 and has been immersed in digital media from the start. I know first hand how difficult it is to parent today and how parents get conflicting information about the role of media.

Today, from birth onward, babies are surrounded by devices 24/7. These include touchscreens, tablets, phones, hand held electronic toys, and other mobile devices.  They displace a baby’s traditional ways of play and first-hand learning. Parents face many stresses- they struggle with a double problem- managing their own screen time and managing children’s screen time.

My Education: Annenberg School of Communication. University of Pennsylvania PhD Thesis: A Theory of Susceptibility to Media Effects.” Cornell University, Ithaca NY (MPSCA)

Academic Experience: London Business School (lecturer- Future Media, Marketing) University of California, Irvine (Institute of Transportation Studies). Primary researcher on diffusion of new technology. Teach occasional classes at College of Marin (Ca.) on mindfulness and technology. Academic Vitae and Publication list available upon request.

Other Experience: Telecomm Services (AT&T); Transportation Studies (UCLA). Video Instruction for Smartphone Users (MDOT).

Previous Books: Aging in Suburbia: The Must Have Conversation about Homes and Driving (Amazon, 2014).