Virginia Tech® home

Seminar: Taking a Social Ecological Approach to Adolescent Online Safety

Karla Badillo-Urquiola

Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Central Florida

Tuesday, January 25, 2022
10:00 AM
1100 Torgersen Hall


Foster teens are some of the most vulnerable youth who are subject to serious online risks, such as sex trafficking. However, little research has studied how the internet plays a role in these risks, nor how we can develop effective interventions to empower foster youth against becoming victims. Therefore, my research, which is partially funded by the William T. Grant Foundation (a non-profit foundation that funds research with a focus on reducing inequality in youth outcomes), works to understand the social ecologies of support and contextual factors that play a role in how foster teens and other at-risk youth (ages 13-17) experience and engage in online environments. In this talk, I will discuss the challenges foster parents encounter trying to mediate their foster teens’ technology use in the home, as well as heuristics for conducting risky research with teens. I believe adolescent online safety strategies should empower teens to manage their online experiences in a way that meaningfully benefits them. The goal of my research trajectory is to develop educational and technological interventions that can help promote more teen-centric approaches to online safety and reduce the digital inequalities experienced by teens in foster care.


Karla Badillo-Urquiola is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Modeling, Simulation, and Training at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She also completed her M.S. degree in Modeling and Simulation and B.Sc. degree in Psychology with a minor in Writing and Rhetoric at UCF. Karla is a Human-Computer Interaction researcher whose work is situated at the intersection of Social Computing, Psychology, and Privacy. Leveraging her interdisciplinary background, she implements mixed methods to study adolescent online safety for vulnerable and at-risk youth, specifically those in foster care situations. Her research has won Best Paper (top 1%), Best Paper Honorable Mention (top 5%), and Best Poster awards at top-tier international and national HCI conferences (i.e., CHI, CSCW, SOUPS). Karla is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow, former Ronald E. McNair Scholar, and an inducted member of the Order of Pegasus (the highest honor a graduate student can obtain at UCF). Beyond research, Karla serves as a mission ambassador for an anti-sex trafficking awareness organization and is an active member of the SIGCHI Latin American HCI Community (LAIHC).