Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Committee Chair/Advisor

Denham, Bryan

Committee Member

Billings , Andrew

Committee Member

Mainella , Fran

Committee Member

Schmalz , Dorothy


With the third-person effect as a conceptual framework, this study examined perceived effects of digital media and electronic devices among charter high school students in the Southeastern United States. In studying third-person perceptions, the study built on research by Schmierbach, Boyle, Xu and McLeod (2011), who analyzed perceived effects of digital gaming among college students.
In addition to items addressing the positive and negative effects of digital media and electronic devices, participants in the current research responded to questions about time spent exercising and in the outdoors, time spent on video games, and participation in virtual social communities, as well as to questions about the presence of household rules governing media use.
Overall, results indicated a consistent presence of third-person effects among the high school students who agreed to participate in the study. Female students, in particular, indicated relatively unhealthy effects of digital media and electronic devices on others, while males tended to estimate slightly lower levels of negative effects. The study found limited support for the notion that individuals who spend more time outdoors perceive relatively negative effects of digital media and electronic devices, and females who spent time in virtual social communities identified slightly lower levels of adverse effects. Rules in the household, time spent on video games and time spent with family did not show significance as determinants. Implications of the findings as well as limitations and recommendations for future research are included in the discussion.

Included in

Communication Commons



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