Ongoing since 2013

Project Directors: Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D.
Funded by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Charmaraman will interview a subset of 30 participants from the larger online survey study of over 1,300 young people aged 12 – 25 from the U.S. and abroad.

As a complementary follow-up to her Wellesley Centers for Women 35th Anniversary-funded study, “Toolkit for online social science research: Constructing online surveys and strategies for targeting underrepresented young people,” Charmaraman will interview a subset of 30 participants from the larger online survey study of over 2,000 young people aged 12 – 25 from the U.S. and abroad. During her two-year fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections junior investigator grantee, she will analyze the following research questions:

(1) How does the use of media and social networking communities influence adolescent risk or resiliency, given potentially negative media stereotypes or stigma about one or more of their social identities, such as race/ethnicity or sexual orientation?

(2) Why and under what circumstances do adolescents use media and/or social networking to connect with others of a similar, potential stigmatized, background? Is connecting with similar individuals through media outlets associated with better coping with stress from one or more of their social identities?

A short-term goal is to increase understanding about how media and social networking can affect vulnerable adolescents; psychological health, sense of identity, and self-worth. Future directions beyond this project include developing media- and social-networking-based learning modules that can increase adolescents; resiliency in the face of vulnerability created by alienation and stigma from mainstream communities, and that can be embedded within larger “interventions” that target specific issues. The larger aim is to enhance the potential of vulnerable adolescents to take personal responsibility for improving their health and the quality of their lives. Charmaraman will be mentored by Michael Rich, M.D., M.P.H. at the Center on Media and Child Health, Children’s Hospital Boston (http://www.cmch.tv/).