Claire Essex

PhD Student

Email address:


Dr Tim J Smith (Birkbeck, University of London)

Dr Teodora Gliga (University of East Anglia)

Nick Walters (CEO Hopster)


Research Interests

For my PhD research I am working with a leading children’s media platform ‘Hopster’ to examine the dynamics of attention in response to media presented on touchscreen devices. I am interested in how aspects of the content (i.e., editing techniques such as pace) and different types of interaction (i.e., video viewing, educational games) may influence the allocation of attention and a child’s ability to comprehend and learn from the content. My research uses EEG, Eye-Tracking and developmental measures to explore these dynamics.

My PhD is funded by a 1+3 ESRC studentship.



Mphil/ PhD Student, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck (October 2018- present)

MSc Educational Neuroscience (Distinction), Birkbeck and UCL Institute of Education (2017-2018)

BSc hons Psychology (First Class), Birkbeck College, University of London (2013-2017)



ESRC Industrial Challenge Studentship with UCL, Bloomsbury, and East London Doctoral Training Program (UBEL DTP)

Birkbeck Engagement Seed Funding, Public Engagement Award (March 2018) “Starting a dialogue with early-years stakeholders on the role of technology in child development: Focus groups and evaluation”



Smith, T. J., Essex, C., & Bedford, R. (2022). Are movies making us smarter? The role of cinematic evolution in the Flynn Effect. Projections.
Essex, C., Gliga, T., Singh, M., & Smith, T. J. (2022). Understanding the differential impact of children’s TV on executive functions: a narrative-processing analysis. Infant Behavior and Development66, 101661.


Conference Posters

Essex, C.M., Gliga, T., Cheung, C.H.M., Bedford, R., & Smith, T.J, “Touchscreen Use and Visual Attention during Infancy”. British Psychological Society, Developmental Section Annual Conference (September, 2017)

Smith, T.J, Essex, C.M., Gliga, T., Cheung, C. H. M., Portugal, A. M., Bedford, R. M, “High toddler touchscreen use is associated with neural and behavioural differences in attention processing”. Digital Media and Developing Minds, Second National Congress (October, 2018).


Conference Presentations

Essex, C., Gliga, T., & Smith, T. J. (2023). Evidence for the short-term impact of viewing fantastical cartoon content on young children’s emerging attention control. Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development. 


Public Engagement

Facilitator for Toddlers and Touchscreens, a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Award Project (October 2017- September 2019).


Previous Work Experience

Certified Apple Macintosh Technician, Apple Inc (September 2011- September 2015)

Freelance Stage Manager for Theatre (August 2006- August 2011)