NWO Vidi-grant awarded to communication scientist dr. Esther Rozendaal

Communication scientist Dr. Esther Rozendaal of Erasmus University Rotterdam has been awarded a Vidi grant of 800,000 euros by Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). With this grant Rozendaal will investigate how teenagers can be empowered to behave in a media-literate way online.

Research into competences

Teenagers grow up in a world where social media, apps and games are omnipresent. This offers them important opportunities in the areas of entertainment, communication and education. But there are also risks to their wellbeing and safety. That's why more and more attention is being paid to the digital media literacy of this group. It is often thought that increasing awareness and knowledge about the opportunities and risks of digital media, for example through education in schools, contributes to a media-literate behavioural change among teenagers. However, there is still little evidence for this assumption. Rozendaal wants to find out what competences teenagers need to autonomously make media-literate choices. She believes that in addition to awareness and knowledge, motivation and the ability to carry out media-literate behaviour also play an important role. Teenagers' media use is often strongly emotionally driven and aimed at instant gratification of their need for entertainment, connection and relaxation. This makes it quite a challenge for many teenagers to want to and be able to behave in a media-literate manner.

Deployment of innovative game technology

Rozendaal uses innovative game technology in her research. With the help of this technology she wants to develop an online platform where the daily environment in which teenagers use digital media is simulated. Think for example of a virtual game environment, such as Minecraft, in which players can recreate their school or their own bedroom. The advantage of using game technology is that it allows unobtrusive observation of media-literate behaviour. This reduces the chance of social desirability, which often plays a major role in self-reported measures of behaviour. For the development of the platform Rozendaal will collaborate with professional game developers and her target group: teenagers. By involving teenagers intensively from the start of the project, she hopes to make the platform fit in optimally with their perceptions and needs. Rozendaal's research not only provides a new theoretical framework that can be used to explain and predict the media-literate behaviour of teenagers, but also relevant knowledge for developers of media education programs.

The Vidi project is part of Rozendaal's research program, in which she uses insights from communication science, developmental psychology and behavioural sciences to solve a variety of media literacy issues. In addition to the online safety behaviour of teenagers, she researches, among other things, the advertising literacy of children and the transparency of influencer marketing.

NWO VIDI grant

Vidi is aimed at experienced researchers who have carried out successful research for a number of years after their PhD. Researchers are free to submit their own subject for funding. NWO selects researchers on the basis of the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and possibilities for knowledge utilisation. A total of 205 researchers submitted an admissible research project for funding in the field of social sciences and humanities in this Vidi round. Of these, 22 were honored.

About Esther Rozendaal

Communication and behavioural scientist dr. Esther Rozendaal obtained her PhD at the University of Amsterdam in 2011. She is Associate Professor at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences and member of the Movez Lab, a research team with a shared interest in youth, digital media and well-being. She previously received a NWO Veni grant for a research project into the empowerment of children as critical advertising consumers. Rozendaal is also actively involved in making connections between science and practice. Together with professor Moniek Buijzen, she set up the accessible and appealing online knowledge portal Bitescience.com. She is also a member of various advisory boards, such as the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media (NICAM), the National Academy for Media and Society and the Media Literacy Network.

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, mediarelaties EUR-ESSB | 06 83676038 | marjolein.kooistra@eur.nl