Dr. Rachel Flynn

Rachel Flynn

( She/Her/Hers )
Assistant Professor
Faculty Advisor
Email: rachelflynn@sfsu.edu

Rachel is a developmental psychologist whose research centers on media’s impact on children. Studying media's impact on children's physical, social, and cognitive development is particularly relevant for understanding the rapidly changing social and cultural environments in which children live. Prior to receiving her PhD, she spent a decade working directly with children and families in schools, communities, and youth development programs. Her direct service work with children has centered on creating safe and inclusive learning environments and teaching adults how to adapt for individual needs and to proactively and positively manage challenging behaviors.  Before joining SFSU, Rachel was a Research Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and a postdoc fellow at New York University. Rachel is excited to be in the Bay Area as she loves being outside, hiking, camping and stand-up paddle boarding.

Educational Background

Post-doctoral Fellowships, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and Department of Teaching and Learning, New York University, New York

Ph.D., Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA

M.A., Psychology in Education, Teacher’s College, Columbia University, New York

B.S., Biopsychology and Cognitive Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI


Neuman, S.B., Flynn, R.M., Wong, K.M., & Kaefer, T., (2020). Quick, incidental word learning in educational media:  All contexts are not equal among low-income preschoolers. Educational Technology Research & Development, Advanced Online.

Flynn, R.M., Richert, R.A. & Wartella, E., (2019). Play in a digital world: How interactive media shapes the lives of children. American Journal of Play, 12(1), 54-73.

Blumberg, F. C., Flynn, R.M.,  Kleinknecht, E., Ricker, A., (2019). Cognitive development and gaming in the digital age. Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, 12(2), 39-50.

Flynn, R.M., Wong, K.M., Neuman, S.B., & Kaefer, T. (2019). Children's attention to screen-based pedagogical supports: An eye-tracking study with low-income preschool children in the United States. Journal of Children and Media, 13(2), 180-200.

Flynn, R.M., Colon-Acosta C., Zhou, J., & Bower, J. (2019). A game-based repeated assessment for cognitive monitoring: Initial usability and adherence in a summer camp setting. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(5), 2003 - 2014.

Flynn, R.M., Ricker, A., Dolezal, C., Kunin, M., & Mellens, C. (2019). The longitudinal impact of a residential summer camp intervention on social-emotional skills for children with special needs. Children and Youth Services Review, 96, 354-363. doi:

Schlesinger, M., Flynn, R.M., & Richert, R.A., (2019). Do parents care about TV?  How parent beliefs inform children’s media encounters and vocabulary. Journal of Children and Media, 13(4).

Samudra, P., Flynn, R.M., Wong, K.M. (2019). Vocabulary learning from educational media: Can co-viewing help low-income preschoolers? AERA Open, 5(2), 1-12.

Wakschlag, L.S., Roberts, M.Y., Flynn. R.M., Marino, B.S., Norton, E.S., & Davis, M.M. (2019). Future directions for advancing earlier identification and prevention of mental disorders: A mental health, earlier framework. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

Neuman, S.B., Wong, K.M., Flynn, R.M., Kaefer, T. (2019). Learning vocabulary from educational media:  The role of pedagogical supports for low-income preschoolers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(1), 32-44.

Blumberg, F. C., Deater-Deckard, K., Calvert, S. L., Flynn, R.M., Green, C. S., Arnold, D. H., & Brooks, P. (2019). Digital games as a context for children’s cognitive development: Research recommendations and policy considerations. Society for Research in Child Development, Social Policy Report, 32(1), 1-33.

Flynn, R.M., Staiano, A.E, Beyl, R., Richert, R.A., Wartella, E., & Calvert, S.L.  (2018). The Influence of active gaming on cardiorespiratory fitness in Black and Hispanic youth. Journal of School Health, 88(10), 768 - 775. doi: 10.1111/josh.12679

Flynn, R.M. & Richert, R.A. (2018). Cognitive, not physical, engagement in videogaming influences executive functioning. Journal of Cognition and Development, 19(1), 1-20.

Flynn, R.M., & Colon, N. (2016). Solitary active video game play improves executive functioning more than collaborative play for children with special needs. Games for Health Journal, 5(6), 1-7.

Flynn, R.M., Lissy, R., Alicea, S., Tazartes, T. & McKay M. (2016). Professional development for teachers plus coaching related to school-wide suspensions for a large urban school system. Children and Youth Services Review, 62, 29-39.

Schlesinger, M., Flynn, R.M., Richert, R.A. (2016). Preschoolers’ trust of and learning from media characters. Journal of Children and Media, 10(3) 1748 - 2801.

Flynn, R.M. & Richert, R.A. (2015). Parents support preschoolers’ use of a novel interactive device.  Infant & Child Development, 24(6) 624-642.

Staiano, A.E. & Flynn, R.M. (2014). Therapeutic uses of active video games: A systematic review. Games for Health Journal, 3(6), 351-365.

Flynn, R.M, Richert, R.A., Staiano, A.E., Wartella, E., & Calvert, S.L. (2014). Effects of exergame play on executive functioning (EF) in children and adolescents at a summer camp for low income youth. Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 4(1), 209 - 225.