Ellen Helsper is a lecturer in the Media and Communications Department of the LSE with a specialisation in Quantitative Media Research. Her current research interests include the links between digital and social exclusion; mediated interpersonal communication; and quantitative and qualitative methodological developments in media research. She is an Academic Advisor and Associate Lecturer at the Media and Communications Department of the PUC in Chile and a Research Associate at the OII. She has been consulted widely by UK and EU government, the commercial and the charitable sector, including consultancies for, amongst others: the BBC, BT, Convey, CitizensOnline, Go On UK, the UK Online Centres, NIACE, and SE. She is currently an external member of the BCS Ethics Board. She has further held the roles of Specialist Advisor on Digital Inclusion for the Welsh Affairs Committee and External Examiner for the Institute of Arts, Design and Technology in Dublin. She has been a Visiting Scholar at NYU Steinhardt's department of Media, Culture and Communications.
Ellen Helsper obtained her MSc-degree in media psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 1998. During the following 5 years she worked in Chile as an associate researcher for the Social Psychology and Media and Communications Departments at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica (PUC). She was involved in designing and analysing the first public opinion poll about the military coup in Chile and the effect of media framing on opinions towards the events on the day of the coup. Other projects she was involved in looked at the relation between fear of crime and media exposure in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the importance of news anchors in television viewers’ everyday lives and the introduction of cable television and broadband internet into Chilean society. Simultaneously she worked in the commercial sector for Adimark and OMD as a media research consultants working on projects in relation to image management of broadcast personalities and general media market research.
This was followed by a period of work in New York and Mexico for OMD USA as a Latin American Audience researcher, looking amongst other things at the distribution and popularity of sports viewing around the world. She joined the LSE as a doctoral researcher in 2003 and was involved in the UK Kids Online Project which examined at children’s and their parent’s internet use and attitudes. While she was working on her PhD she did consultancy work for OSSWatch (Oxford University), Ofcom, the BBC and Plan International. The outputs of this consultancy work ranged from reports on the impact of R18 rated and food advertising material on young people to the use of Open Source Software in higher education and the evaluation of journalist training programmes in post-conflict areas.
In 2007 she obtained a PhD in Media and Communications with a thesis bearing the title: ’Internet use amongst teenagers: Social inclusion, self-confidence and group identity’. This was followed by a position as Survey Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII, University of Oxford). There she managed and analysed the biennial Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS), the UK partner in the World Internet Project. She was responsible for designing and analysing the 2007 and 2009 surveys. She also worked on developing a research framework and project on the role of the Internet in intimate relationships through the ‘Me, My Spouse and the Internet’ project.
Current Research Interests
In her current position as a Lecturer at the LSE, Ellen Helsper focuses on developing approaches to quantitative and qualitative research in relation to media and everyday life with a special interest in digital exclusion, media literacy and interpersonal interactions online.
Her main research interest is in the role of new media in everyday life of disadvantaged social groups. An important element is the development of a theoretical framework to understand the links between digital and social exclusion based on theories of social capital and social identity. Her current interest is in further developing the corresponding fields model she first proposed in the report 'Digital Inclusion: An Analysis of Social Disadvantage and the Information Society' and has now been published as a paper in Communication Theory. This model seeks to theorise the multiple barriers that lead to digital disengagement as well as those factors that stop digital engagement from having an impact on economic, social, cultural, and personal aspects of everyday life. This interest is backed up by analysis of international datasets which have comparable data in this area. Cross-cultural comparisons of the processes that lead to engagement and to mediation of our everyday life, pose interesting questions about the generalisability of research in different socio-cultural contexts. She is currently working on the EU Kids Online project where she looks at how these processes work for different groups of young people.
Furthermore, she has a special interest in the development of methodology in relation to media and policy research, especially in methodologies related to the measurement and understanding of social impact. Important to her in this context is an understanding of engagement with media as multifaceted (for example incl. entertainment, communication and learning) and contextualised in everyday realities. This contextual and gradated approach to media engagement brings up difficulties for generalised policy and mono-methodological approaches.
Regarding future research she is interested in working further on the issue of the role of digital media in people's everyday social and personal relationships especially amongst mobile populations. This includes the relationship of mediated communication to social and psychological well-being and the cross cultural similarities and differences in the processes that make people lead 'digital' or 'non-digital' lives. The theoretical and empirical complications in disentangling forced exclusion and choice in these matters is what fascinates her most.
LSE Research Online
Peer reviewed articles
Helsper, E.J & Reisdorf, B. (in press) A quantitative examination of explanations for reasons of internet non-use. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
Helsper, E.J. (2012). A corresponding fields model of digital inclusion. Communication Theory, 22(4), 403-426
Helsper, E.J. & Gerber, M. (2012). The plausibility of cross-national comparisons of internet use types. The Information Society: An International Journal, 28(2), 83-89.
Smahel, D. Helsper, E. J., Barbovschi, M. & Dedkova, L. (2012) Meeting online strangers among European children. Proceedings of the 15th European Conference on Developmental Psychology. Bologna, Italy, 419-422. http://www.medimond.com/proceedings/detail.asp?id=20110823
Eynon, R. & Helsper, E.J. (2011) Adults learning online: Digital choice and/or digital exclusion? New Media & Society, 13(4), 534-551.
Helsper, E.J. (2010). Gendered internet use across generations and life stages. Communication Research, 37(3), 352-374.
Helsper, E.J. & Whitty, M. T. (2010) Netiquette within married couples: Agreement about acceptable online behavior and surveillance between partners. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(5), 916-926.
Helsper, E.J. & Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: Where is the evidence? British Educational Research Journal, 36(3), 503 - 520.
Livingstone, S., and Helsper, E.J (2010) Balancing opportunities and risks in teenagers' use of the Internet: The role of online skills and family context. New Media & Society, 12(2), 309-329.
Helsper, E.J. (2009) The Aging Internet: Choice and Exclusion from Digital Services of the Elderly. Working with Older People, 13 (4), 28-33.
Dutton, W, H., Helsper, E.J., Whitty, M.T., Li, N., Buckwalter, J.G. & Lee, E. (2009) The Role of the Internet in Reconfiguring Marriages: a Cross-National Study. Interpersona, 3(2), 3-18.
Helsper, E.J. (2008). Internet use and opinion formation in countries with different ICT contexts. Observatorio 2(3), available at http://obs.obercom.pt/index.php/obs/article/view/188/186.
Livingstone, S., and Helsper, E.J. (2008) Parental mediation and children's Internet use. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 52(4), 581-599.
Livingstone, S. and Helsper, E.J. (2007) Taking risks when communicating on the Internet: The role of offline social-psychological factors in young people's vulnerability to online risks. Information, Communication and Society 10(5), 619-644.
Livingstone, S. and Helsper, E.J. (2007) Gradations in digital inclusion: Children, young people and the digital divide. New Media & Society, 9(4), 671–696.
Livingstone, S. and Helsper, E.J. (2006) Relating advertising literacy to the effects of advertising children's food choice: An integration of two research literatures. Journal of Communication, 56(3), 560-584.
Livingstone, S., Bober, M. and Helsper, E.J. (2005) Active participation or just more information? Young people's take up of opportunities to act and interact on the Internet. Information, Communication and Society, 8(3), 287-314.
Helsper, E.J. (2012) Which children are fully online? In S. Livingstone, L. Haddon & A. Goerzig (Eds). Children, risk and safety online: Research and policy challenges in comparative perspective. Policy Press: Oxford (UK).
Helsper, E. J. (2011). Digital literacies: Different cultures, different definitions. In S. Stergioulas & H. Drenoyianni (Ed.), Pursuing Digital Literacy in Compulsory Education. New Literacy and Digital Epistemology Series. Peter Lang Publishing Group: Oxford (UK).
Helsper, E.J. & Godoy-Etcheverry, S. (2011) The Long Tail of Digital Exclusion: A Comparison Between the United Kingdom and Chile. In B. Van Ark, R. Weis & K. Schinasi (Eds) The Linked World: How ICT is Transforming Societies, Cultures, and Economies New York, NY: The Conference Board. http://ictlinkedworld.com/
Helsper,E.J & Galacz, A. (2009) Understanding the links between digital engagement and social inclusion in Europe. In A.Cheong & G. Cardoso (Eds) World Wide Internet: Changing Societies, Economies and Cultures. Macao University Printing House: Taipa (Macau).
Helsper, E.J. (2012) Migration and New Media. Transnational Families and Polymedia. (2012) by Madianou, M & Miller, D. (Routledge) [Book review] for Journal of Children and Media, iFirst. doi:10.1080/17482798.2012.724595
Helsper, E.J. (2011) The Social Dynamics of Information and Communication Technology (2008) by Loos, E., Mante-Meijer, E. & Haddon, L. (Ashgate) [Book review] for Information, Communication and Society, 14 (2), 295-297.
Work in progress
(contact me if you are interested in an early copy or related presentations)
Helsper, E.J. & Eynon, R. (under review) Pathways to digital literacy and engagement. European Journal of Communication
Helsper, E.J. (under review). Gender, ethnicity and chat partner selection: Can behavior and cognitions be changed through mode of address? Information, Communication & Society
Whitty, M., Helsper, E.J. & Gerber, M. (in preparation). Managing intimate relationships through the Internet. Journal of Applied Psychology.
Helsper, E.J., and Smahel, D.(draft completed). Using Psychological and Digital Inclusion Frameworks to Explain Excessive Internet use by Young Europeans. Media Psychology
Heinderyckx, F., Helsper, E.J., & VanHolsbeek, M. (draft completed). Academic Journals, Communication Scholars and the Notion of Quality. Journal of Communication.
Helsper, E.J. & Reisdorf, B. (in preparation) Changing reasons for digital disengagement over time. Telecommunications Policy.
Eynon, R. & Helsper, E.J. (in preparation). Family Dynamics of Internet Use in Britain. New Media & Society.
Helsper, E.J. (in preparation). The influence of cultural versus individual characters on digital exclusion amongst European Youth. Journal of Communication
Helsper, E.J. (Draft in Progress) Digital Disconnect: Digital Inclusion Theory, Policy and Practice, Book.
Smahel, D., Helsper, E.J., Green, L., Kalmus, V., Blinka, L., & Olafson, K. (2012) Short report: Excessive Internet Use among European Children. EU Kids Online project report. Available at: http://www.eukidsonline.net
Helsper, E.J. (2012) The digital shift - are we leading where society can follow or choosing to leave people behind? Digital Outreach. Glossop: Convey. Available here
Helsper, E.J. (2012, March) Social Digital Series: Digital by Default - Excluded by Default?. Blog for the LSE Media Policy Project Blog. Available here
Helsper, E.J. (2011, July) Digital Underclass Emerges in the UK. Blog for the LSE Media Policy Project Blog. Available here
Helsper, E.J. (2011, March) What has happened to the Universal Service Commitment? Blog for the LSE Media Policy Project Blog. Available here
Helsper, E.J. (2010) Review of Personal Connections in a Digital Age (2010) by N. Baym (Polity Press) for the Times Higher Education, 30 September, p.55.
Dutton, W., Helsper, E.J. & Gerber, M. M.(2009) The Internet in Britain: 2009. Oxford Internet Institute: University of Oxford, Oxford (UK). Available here
Helsper, E.J. (2008) Digital Natives and Ostrich Tactics? How young people deal with negative online experiences. Foresight Futures Challenge Paper for the Identities, Citizenship and Communities Group.
EU Kids Online project: http://www.eukidsonline.net
World Internet Project: http://www.worldinternetproject.net