Summerland Camps Advisory Board

Summerland Camps utilize researchers and top industry experts to best support families that are struggling with video game or social media overuse issues.  Our mission is to stay on top of research and current trends into best practices for screen time overuse habits.  Through our advisory board members, Summerland Campers and their families have access to the latest research, online support, and additional materials and resources beyond Summerland Camps.

Dr. Douglas Gentile

Associate Professor of Psychology Iowa State

If you are interested in more details, in copies of scientific papers, etc, please visit Dr. Gentile’s public page at

Developmental psychologist Douglas Gentile is an award-winning research scientist, educator, author, and one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of mass media on children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Gentile conducts scientific research on the positive and negative effects of media on children, adolescents, and adults, including such topics as media violence, educational media, video games, advertising, media ratings, and technology “addictions. The media provide benefits and risks for healthy child development. Studying the effects of media scientifically can provide parents, educators, and policymakers with the information that they need to improve children’s outcomes.


Examples of current and past studies

  • Studies on the effects of video games, including the benefits of playing prosocial games, the effects of violent games on aggressive thoughts and behaviors, and how to understand video game and Internet addiction.
  • Studies helping to change the way we understand media violence effects, by using interdisciplinary risk and resilience models to explain them and by describing the learning mechanisms that underlie media content effects.
  • Studies on how mindfulness and self-compassion can reduce aggression, change consumption behaviors, reduce the effects of advertising, and improve overall happiness.
  • Studies on how different types of parental monitoring is a protective factor for children’s physical health, school performance, and social wellness.
  • Studies on the validity of the U.S. media rating systems
  • Studies on how screen time is a risk factor for attention problems.

Dr. Craig Anderson

Distinguished Professor & Director, Center for the Study of Violence

Dr. Anderson has been studying violent video game effects for over 15 years.  Though Dr. Anderson’s research, we know that violent video games increase the likelihood of later aggressive behavior, aggressive thinking, aggressive emotions, decreases pro-social behavior and feelings of empathy.


Dr. Anderson has written numerous articles on media violence and violent video games.  Please see Dr. Anderson’s full research bio here:

You can access Dr. Anderson’s letter on video game recommendations here:

Parents are strongly recommended to purchase Dr. Gentile and Dr. Anderson’s book on video game violence effects from after registering for camp.

Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy
by Craig A. Anderson et al.

Dr. Adam Alter

Dr. Adam Alter

Dr. Adam Alter

Author, Researcher, and Professor at New York University

Dr. Alter is an Associate Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, with an affiliated appointment in the New York University Psychology Department.


Dr. Alter’s academic research focuses on judgment and decision-making and social psychology, with a particular interest in the sometimes surprising effects of subtle cues in the environment on human cognition and behavior. His research has been published widely in academic journals and featured on dozens of TV, radio and print outlets around the world.


Dr. Alter wrote the book Irresistible which is available here.

Dr. Alter’s book Irresistible is recommended reading for all Summerland families.  The book traces addiction through history, and Dr. Alter shows that we’re only just beginning to understand the epidemic of behavioral addiction gripping society. He takes us inside the human brain at the very moment we score points on a smartphone game, or see that someone has liked a photo we’ve posted on Instagram.

“If you can’t stop checking, clicking, surfing and liking, put your device down and read Adam Alter’s Irresistible, an important, groundbreaking book about why we’re addicted to technology, how we got here, and what we should do next.”
Arianna Huffington

Dr. Karen Szumlinski

Researcher and Professor at University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Karen Szumlinski

Karen K. Szumlinski earned a BSc in Psychology and a MSc in Medical Sciences (Neuroscience and Behavioural Sciences Division) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Szumlinski earned a second MS and her PhD (2000) in the Center for Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology at the Albany Medical College in Albany, New York, USA. Dr. Szumlinski conducted her post-doctoral training at the Neuroscience Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina. In December 2003, Dr. Szumlinski was promoted to Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina and in July 2004 was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Szumlinski is currently a Full Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and is affiliated with both the Neuroscience Research Institute and the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCSB. She sits on the Editorial Boards of a number of journals including: eNeuro (Addiction Review Editor), Addiction Biology, Synapse, and several Frontiers journals. In addition, she serves as an ad hoc reviewer for over 40 neuroscience-related journals. Dr. Szumlinski is a Full Member of the American College on Neuropsychopharmacology, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, the Research Society on Alcoholism, the European Behavioural Pharmacological Society and the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Szumlinski is involved in numerous outreach activities, including her role as the Co-ordinator of Brain Awareness Week-related programs for Pre-K to Grade 6 schools in Santa Barbara and Goleta.


Dr. Szumlinski’s major research interest concerns the biochemical mechanisms underlying the changes in brain and behavior produced by chronic exposure to drugs of abuse, in particular psychomotor stimulants and alcohol.

Cam Adair, Game Quitters

You can read Cam’s story on overcoming video game addiction here.

Cam’s Story:

“For over 10 years I was addicted to video games. I dropped out of high school twice, never graduated, never went to college, and struggled with depression. I played video games up to 16 hours a day and even deceived my parents by pretending to have jobs.  My turning point came when I wrote a suicide note. I knew something had to change and quitting gaming was part of that. Today life is better, and I believe that it can be for you too.”

Game Quitters is the largest support community for video game and technology addiction, serving 50,000 members/month in 80 countries.  Though a relationship with Game Quitters, Summerland alumni are part of an online community forum which offers support, guidance, and practical information on quitting excessive gaming and other technology overuse habits once and for all.

Josh Ochs, Smart Social

Josh travels the nation speaking to over 30,000 kids each year sharing with them tips they can use to create a positive online presence.

Josh’s Story:

Josh has built a career out of showing students that social media can be used in a positive way to shine online and create a portfolio of accomplishments that impress colleges and future employers. He is the author of the book Light, Bright & Polite and the founder of

Josh is an independent adviser to the camp.  He has hosted the Summerland Founder on several occasions on his video blog, and his tips and advice are part of the group curriculum for Summerland Camps.

Josh gives practical, no-nonsense advice on creating an online presence.  Josh shows adolescents and teens how to use social media to create a portfolio of accomplishments that impress colleges and employers. He also speaks to thousands of parents each year to bring them up to speed on how they can have a dialog with their kids about social media safety.