Social Emotional Learning in Children’s Media


Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Within the field of education, SEL has grown into one of the most frequently talked about (and researched) topics. Children’s media, from television programming to movies to video games, has a long history of not only entertaining but also trying to educate children. As more children interact with media, it is important to identify the components that might support greater social-emotional development.

Books & Chapters

Activities for Building Character and Social-Emotional Learning (2012)
Used in hundreds of classrooms across the United States, this book provides field-tested activities to help students build attitudes of respect and caring, reduce problem behavior, empower students to solve problems, and educate the whole child.

Children’s Choice of Games: The Influence of Prosocial Tendency and Education-Level (2009)
This chapter explores exposure to different genres of video games.

Content Effects: Educational Media for Children. In: The International Encyclopedia of Media Effects. (2017)
This chapter reviews various theories related to children’s educational media.

Effective Interventions for Social-Emotional Learning (2018)
This book reviews evidence-based, multi-tiered methods for promoting social-emotional learning with typically developing students as well as those with special needs.

Emotions, Technology, and Social Media (2016)
This book discusses the ways the social media sphere uses emotion and technology, and how each of these has become part of the digital culture.

Internet and Emotions (2014)
This book features theoretical and empirical chapters from international researchers who investigate a wide range of issues concerning the sociology of emotions in the context of new media.

Technology and Digital Media in the Early Years: Tools for Teaching and Learning (2015)
This book contains developmentally-appropriate recommendations for teaching with technology in early childhood, focusing specifically on utilizing media to impart social-emotional learning competencies on children.


International Journal on E-Learning
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Journal of Games, Self, & Society
Well Played


Greenhow C, Robelia B. Old communication, new literacies: Social network sites as social learning resources. J Comput-Mediat Commun. 2009;14(4):1130-1161. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2009.01484.x

Portnoy, L, Schrier, K. Using games to support STEM curiosity, identity, and self-efficacy. Journal of Games, Self & Society. 2019;1:66-98.

Shiratuddin N, Landoni M. Evaluation of content activities in children’s educational software. Eval Program Plann. 2002;25(2):175-182. doi:10.1016/S0149-7189(02)00011-3


Fred Rogers Center – Social-Emotional Learning Resources
A series of publications that detail ways in which social-emotional learning curriculum can be enhanced using media in the classroom and at home.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
CASEL is one of the leading authorities on social-emotional learning in the country. Their website includes the latest research on social-emotional learning as well as a library of SEL-related assessments.

Common Sense Education – Educator Toolkit
An online resource for educators seeking to implement social-emotional learning into their classrooms and teach character through digital technology and interactive media.

Researchers of Note

Christine Greenhow
Jessica Taylor Piotrowski
Karen Schrier
Susan Rivers
Stephanie Jones


From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development
The Aspen Institute

The Practice Base For How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
The Aspen Institute

132 SEL Apps, Games and Activities for Building Character in the Classroom
Common Sense Media

Digital Citizenship & Social and Emotional Learning
Common Sense Media

Emotions and Digital Technologies: Mapping the Field of Research in Media Studies.
MEDIA@LSE Working Paper Series