Donald Roberts received his A.B. from Columbia University (1961) and his M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley (1963). He earned his Ph.D. in communication at Stanford in 1968, then became a member of the department faculty, serving as Director of the Institute for Communication Research from 1985-1990 and from 1999-2001. He chaired the department from 1990-1996.
Roberts teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on communication theory and research and on children, youth, and media. His primary area of research concerns how children and adolescents use and respond to media, a topic on which he has written extensively (e.g., chapters in The Handbook of Communication, Learning from Television: Psychological and Education Research, The International Encyclopedia of Communications, The Handbook of Children and the Media,and The Handbook of Adolescent Psychology).
He has also written comprehensive reviews of the literature on the effects of mass communication for the Annual Review of Psychology and for the revised edition of the Handbook of Social Psychology, and co-authored a chapter on public opinion processes in the Handbook of Communication Science.
Roberts helped to design a parental advisory system to label violence, sex/nudity, and language for the computer software industry which has been adapted by the Internet Content Rating Association for use on the World Wide Web. He has spoken on the issue of content labeling and advisories internationally (e.g., Mexico, Korea, Australia, South Africa), and has published several articles dealing with content labeling.
He has consulted with a number of companies involved in producing children’s media (e.g., Filmation, ABC-Disney, MGM Animation, Sunbow Entertainment, Nelvana Ltd., and KidsWB!), and currently functions as Educational Director for DIC Entertainment, helping to develop content to meet the FCC’s requirements for educational programming for children. Roberts also served on the board of advisors of MediaScope, a nonprofit organization founded to promote constructive depictions of social issues in film, television, music, and video games, and was a planner and panelist for Vice President Al Gore’s Conference on Families and Media.
Roberts is co-editor of The Process and Effects of Mass Communication and co-author of Television and Human Behavior, It’s Not Only Rock and Roll: Popular Music in the Lives of Adolescents and Kids on Media in America: Patterns of Use at the Millennium.
Emeritus Faculty, Acad Council, Communication