Katie Davis

Dr. Katie Davis is Associate Professor at the University of Washington (UW) and Director of the UW Digital Youth Lab. For nearly 20 years, Katie has been researching and speaking about the impact of digital technologies on young people’s learning, development, and well-being.

Katie uses the insights from her research to design positive technology experiences for youth and their families and to provide practical guidance to parents, educators, policymakers, and technology designers. At UW, she mentors undergraduate and graduate students and teaches courses on child development and technology design.

She has published more than 90 academic papers and is the author of three books, all exploring technology’s role in young people’s lives: Technology’s Child: Digital Media’s Role in the Ages and Stages of Growing Up, Writers in the Secret Garden: Fanfiction, Youth, and New Forms of Mentoring (with Cecilia Aragon), and The App Generation: How Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World (with Howard Gardner). In each, Katie aims to make sense of the often-confusing landscape of research and media messages about kids and technology.

Professional Background

Prior to joining the faculty at UW, Katie was a research scientist at Harvard Project Zero, where she was part of the team that collaborated with Common Sense Media to develop the first iteration of their digital citizenship curriculum.

She began her professional life as an elementary school teacher in Bermuda, an experience that inspired her to dedicate her career to understanding and supporting children’s learning and development. She holds two master’s degrees and a doctorate in Human Development and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Four years ago, Katie and her son, Oliver, moved to Germany so that Katie could take a position as a visiting research scientist in the Human Computer Interaction Lab at Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam.

The experience was a thrilling one for both Katie and for Oliver, who was just two years old when they moved. Now back in Seattle, neither will forget what it was like to be immersed in a new language, culture, and educational system.

Personal Life

Katie was born in Canada and grew up in Bermuda. She completed her high school and university education in the US.

Both her parents are Bermudian, with family ties extending back multiple generations. Oliver was born in Bermuda, making him a thirteenth-generation Bermudian on the Davis side of the family.

In spite of her extensive research into technology and child development, Katie is like every parent when it comes to finding the right balance in digital experiences for Oliver. She regularly uses the two-step decision tool from Technology’s Child to guide her decision making, and has embraced the concept of the “good enough” digital parent.

Katie has two younger half-siblings and a step-brother, who were all on the cusp of adolescence when she started her career as a researcher. It’s been fascinating to watch them live out many of the themes from her work as they moved from adolescence to young adulthood.

She’s an avid reader, daily podcast listener, and intermittent TV show binger. She inherited a love of musical theater from her mother and is proud to have seen over 20 productions of the Canadian hit musical, Anne of Green Gables.

Her appreciation for being in nature deepened while living in Germany, where she was introduced to the concept and practice of wandern (a mix between hiking and walking, without being quite either).

These days, Katie loves searching for “loose parts” outside (pinecones, sticks, pebbles) and around the house (empty toilet rolls, egg cartons, popsicle sticks) to use in crafting projects with Oliver. They also enjoy baking, riding bikes, visiting museums…and sometimes just cooling out on the couch watching TV.