2019 Gryphon Lecture

Pamela Wisniewski

Pamela Wisniewski, 2018-2020 iSchool research fellow and assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Central Florida, will present the 2019 Gryphon Lecture, "Taking a Teen-Centric Approach to Adolescent Online Safety." A human-computer interaction researcher whose work lies at the intersection of social computing and privacy, Wisniewski is particularly interested in the interplay between social media, privacy, and online safety for adolescents.

Abstract:  Most online safety tools (i.e., "parental controls") take an "abstinence-only" approach and are designed to meet the needs of parents and young children, ignoring the complex developmental needs of adolescents (ages 13-17) as they transition into adulthood. For instance, developmental psychologists have shown that some level of autonomy and risk-seeking behaviors are a natural and necessary part of adolescent developmental growth. Therefore, shielding teens from any and all online risks may actually be detrimental to this process. Therefore, my research takes a more teen-centric approach to understanding adolescent online risk experiences, how teens cope with these risks, and ultimately challenges some of the assumptions that have been made about how to protect teens online. My research shows that parents are often not authoritative figures when it comes to the risks their teens are experiencing online; thus, an over-reliance on parental mediation to ensure teen online safety may be problematic. Thus, we may want to move toward new approaches that empower teens by enhancing their risk-coping, resilience, and self-regulatory behaviors, so that they can learn to more effectively protect themselves from online risks.

Wisniewski graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a PhD in computing and information systems and was a post-doctoral scholar at the Pennsylvania State University. She has over six years of industry experience as a systems developer/business analyst in the IT industry. Her research interests are situated at the juxtaposition of HCI, social computing, and privacy. Her goal is to frame privacy as a means to not only protect end users, but more importantly, to enrich online social interactions that individuals share with others. She has authored over 45 peer-reviewed publications and has won multiple best papers (top 1%) and best paper honorable mentions (top 5%) at ACM SIGCHI conferences. She has been awarded over $1.7 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.

This event is sponsored by The Center for Children's Books