Researchers from the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and the Wellesley College Computer Science department are looking for middle school girls to participate in a free virtual summer workshop on designing healthier social media experiences that begins on July 11, 2022. The 5-day program, sponsored by WCW and the Wellesley College Summer Research Internship program, will involve activities to co-design an app to promote positive social media use, and feature Wellesley College students and expert speakers on STEM.
“This workshop teaches middle school girls to use social technologies in a way that supports their overall wellbeing,” said Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., a co-leader of the workshop, senior research scientist at WCW, and director of the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab.
The workshop will have three main components: 1) reflection activities to explore how to address emotional and mental health, self-image, and social relationships online; 2) app co-design and STEM activities for imagining positive social media experiences; and 3) interactive small and whole group learning experiences featuring Wellesley College students as co-facilitators as well as expert speakers on app design, digital citizenship, and wellbeing.
The remote workshop will run from July 11-15, 12:30-3 p.m. EST. Parents can learn more and register their incoming 6th, 7th, or 8th grader for the workshop by completing a short online application. Those with all levels of familiarity with social media are welcome.
a great place for middle schoolers to learn about their identity while interacting with different students from around the country
This will be the fourth summer in a row that Dr. Charmaraman and her colleagues have hosted this program. The curriculum for this year’s workshop has been informed by the feedback of a newly formed Youth Advisory Board composed of former workshop attendees and co-facilitators.
One attendee at last year’s workshop called it “a great place for middle schoolers to learn about their identity while interacting with different students from around the country.” Others called it “fun and inspiring” and said that “everyone was very nice and supportive to each other.”
In surveys after the 2020 program, girls reported increases in the importance of sharing about their abilities, achievements, and future career plans online and feeling of belonging in online communities. They also reported an increase in their belief that they are good at computing and that learning about technology will give them many career choices. And they experienced significant increases in self-esteem and agency.
The workshop is also part of an ongoing research study of the Youth, Media, and Wellbeing Research Lab 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 determine the longer-term health and wellbeing effects of social technologies, including smartphones, social media, YouTube, and gaming.
“Students who attend the workshop will gain skills that can improve their wellbeing when they interact with technology,” said Dr. Charmaraman. “They’ll also contribute to participatory research that engages youth in co-designing more prosocial social media communities.”
April 21, 2022