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Seminar: Risk and Resilience: A Teen-centered Perspective on Teens and Technology Use

Pam Wisniewski

Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida

Thursday, December 12, 2019
9:30am - 10:30am
655 McBryde Hall

Pamela Wisniewski

Abstract:

We often equate keeping teens safe online to shielding them from experiencing online risks – such as information breaches, cyberbullying, sexual solicitations, and exposure to explicit content. However, this abstinence-only approach tends to be very parent-centric and does not take into account the developmental needs and experiences of our youth.  For instance, parental control apps operate by monitoring and restricting teens’ mobile activities, instead of helping teens self-regulate their online behavior. On one hand, we tell teens they need to care about their online privacy in order to stay safe, and on the other, we are taking their privacy away. On all accounts, we assume teens have no personal agency when it comes to their own online safety, and that they cannot effectively manage online risks by themselves. Meanwhile, developmental psychologists have shown that some level of autonomy and risk-seeking behaviors are a natural and necessary part of adolescent developmental growth. In fact, shielding teens from any and all online risks may be detrimental to this process. Therefore, Dr. Wisniewski’s research takes a more teen-centric approach to understanding adolescent online risk experiences, how teens cope with these risks, and ultimately challenges the assumptions that have been made about how to protect teens online. Further, her research shows that parents are often not authoritative figures when it comes to the risks their teens are experiencing online; thus, an overreliance on parental mediation to ensure teen online safety may be problematic. Thus, her research suggests new approaches that empower teens online by enhancing their risk-coping, resilience, and self-regulatory behaviors, so that they can learn to more effectively protect themselves from online risks.

Biography:

Dr. Wisniewski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Central Florida. She is an expert in Human-Computer Interaction whose research lies at the intersection of Social Computing and Privacy. She is particularly interested in the interplay between social media, privacy, and online safety for adolescents. She was one of the first researchers to recognize the need for a resilience-based approach, rather than an abstinencebased approach to adolescent online safety, and to back this stance up with empirical data. She has authored over 65 peer-reviewed publications and has won multiple best papers (top 1%) and best paper honorable mentions (top 5%) at top conferences in her field. She has been awarded over 2.83 million in external grant funding, and her research has been featured by popular news media outlets, including ABC News , NPR , Psychology Today , and U.S. News and World Report . She is an inaugural member of the ACM Future Computing Academy and the first computer scientist to ever be selected as a William T. Grant Scholar. She is also the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award for her innovative, teen-centric approach to adolescent online safety, “Safety by Design: Protecting Adolescents from Online Risks,”