Senior Research Scientist
Director, Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab
- Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Research interests include risky and resilient digital media behaviors within vulnerable peer and family contexts as well as digital citizenship and how to engage youth in (re)defining and monitoring healthy digital media use
Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women and director of the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab. Her research interests include technology and adolescent health, digital citizenship, innovative research methods to include overlooked and hidden populations, and how social identities (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, political affiliation) affect wellbeing.
Charmaraman is currently conducting a three-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health to follow middle school students and their parents during a critical developmental period to determine longer-term health and wellbeing effects of social technologies, including smartphones, social media, YouTube, and gaming. A key goal of this project is not only to prevent negative health effects of social media use, but also to harness its potential to increase connections with other people and communities through the exchange of social and emotional support and opportunities for civic engagement. Alongside this project, Charmaraman received an additional award from NIH to study the role of pets in the positive development of adolescents.
In 2019 and 2020, Charmaraman partnered with a computer scientist to pilot workshops for middle school students to help them explore their social identities and promote STEM engagement in underserved communities. The workshops also encouraged participants to (re)define what healthy social media use means as a tween and teen, with the long-term goal of co-designing apps to empower middle school students to self-regulate their own use.
Charmaraman also directs the Media & Identity Study, ongoing since 2011, an international survey of over 5,000 participants in over 20 countries about media use, social identities, digital citizenship, and civic engagement.
As part of a multimedia strategy project in 2012, funded by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Charmaraman produced a 30-minute documentary video, It’s Our Time: The empathy gap for girls of color, to promote public awareness of the road to educational equity for girls of color. The ultimate goal was to invite public discourse about overcoming barriers to (often overlooked) educational equity for girls of color in order to affect education policy and practice.
Charmaraman’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, William T. Grant Foundation, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Kellogg Foundation, United Way, I Am Strong Foundation, Morningstar Foundation, Borghesani Community Foundation, and AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts.
Charmaraman has cultivated research collaborations across institutions, including the Center for Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital and Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) at Seattle Children’s Hospital, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Department of Educational Psychology.
In 2020, Charmaraman was appointed Scientific Advisor and Partner for Forbes Ignite. She is also a former New Connections grantee from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, awarded to first-generation scholars to increase diversity in the allied health fields.
Charmaraman’s research has been published by academic journals such as Pediatrics, Journal of Adolescent Health, Journal of Adolescent Research, Journal of School Health, Journal of Youth Development, Learning, Media, & Technology, and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. She has co-authored seven book chapters, has presented at over 60 national professional conferences, and has spoken at over 50 community-based events with the goal of translating research for practitioners and policymakers. Her work has been featured by media outlets including Insider, Wired, VeryWell Health, Lifewire, Education Dive, New York Post, and BlackFeminisms.com.