Most online safety tools (i.e., “parental controls”) 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. This makes sense; it is easier to design sociotechnical solutions that monitor and restrict undesirable behavior than it is to build systems that help adolescents youth how to self-regulate their own actions. Similarly, it is also more clear cut to create laws, such as the Childrens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), that protect younger children (ages 13 and under), that together, either result in teens being treated like children or leaving teens to virtually fend for themselves. In my talk, I discuss the status quo of technical solutions for adolescent online safety and propose a paradigm shift towards more teen-centric approaches for keeping adolescents safe online, which includes empowering teens to self-regulate their online behaviors to more effectively manage the risks (e.g., information breaches, cyberbullying, sexual solicitations, and exposure to explicit content) they may encounter online.
Dr. Pamela Wisniewski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Central Florida. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Ph.D. in Computing and Information Systems. She was recently a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the Pennsylvania State University, working with Dr. John (“Jack”) M. Carroll. Dr. Wisniewski has over 6 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. An emerging theme across her research has been regulating the boundaries between how individuals manage their relationships with technology and how they manage their social interactions with others through the use of technology. 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 is particularly interested in the interplay between social media, privacy, and online safety for adolescents. Dr. Wisniewski’s work has won best papers (top 1%) and best paper honorable mentions (top 5%) at premier conferences in her field, as well as being featured on NPR, Forbes, and Science Daily.