middle school student uses laptop during summer workshop on digital wellbeingA middle school student begins an assignment during the 2019 summer workshop on STEM and digital wellbeing.

This program is currently at capacity. The research team has created a waitlist and will notify students of their confirmed spot by Friday, July 24.

Researchers from the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab at the Wellesley Centers for Women seek middle school students to participate in a free virtual summer learning program that begins on Monday, July 27. The 4-day program, hosted in partnership with the Computer Science Department at Wellesley College, will introduce students to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts and teach students about healthy social media use.

“This workshop gives middle school students the opportunity to examine the role of technology in their lives and how it intersects with their COVID-19 social distancing experiences,” said Dr. Linda Charmaraman, a co-leader of the workshop, senior research scientist at WCW, and director of the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab. “Our aim is to help students develop tools to use technology (such as Snapchat or YouTube) in healthier ways, such as examining their identities while supporting their overall wellbeing.”

Throughout the workshop, students will learn from expert speakers -- with Wellesley College students as co-facilitators-- about STEM, digital citizenship, and developing positive online behaviors. The workshop is also part of a research study on how young teens use social media. Dr. Charmaraman and Dr. Catherine Delcourt, assistant professor of computer science at Wellesley College, will hold focus group discussions, conduct STEM exploration activities, and ask students to use digital storytelling techniques to share their experiences.

The remote workshop will run from Monday, July 27, to Thursday, July 30, with potential for an additional week in August to accommodate a second group of students. Parents can learn more and register their child for the workshop by completing a short online application.

Last summer, Dr. Charmaraman and her colleagues held a similar in-person workshop in Norwood, MA. When asked about their experience during the workshop, one student said they learned, “that social media can be a good thing, but if people use it wrong, it could be very harmful.”

The idea for the workshops grew out of an ongoing research study of the Youth, Media, and Wellbeing Research Lab at WCW led by Dr. Charmaraman and funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. The aim of that project is to study associations between middle school students’ social media use and health implications, as well as the roles of peer influence and parental monitoring.

“By participating in this workshop, students will gain skills that can improve their self-efficacy around technology use as well as contribute to research that will inform how educators, policymakers, pediatricians, and families address early adolescent social media use and its impact -- both positive and negative -- on youth development,” said Dr. Charmaraman.

This program is currently at capacity. The research team has created a waitlist and will notify students of their confirmed spot by Friday, July 24.

July 13, 2020

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