HCII Seminar Speaker: Leanne Bowler
Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
"Friendship, joy, cruelty, confusion…and sometimes, reflection and wisdom: Young peoples’ interactions with information and communications technologies" Digital forms of information are increasingly ubiquitous, unbound to a physical space and embedded within all manner of “smart” objects. From toys to telephones, young people are using digital media in their everyday lives. Recent data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that in the United States, 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and as of September 2012, 78% of teens had a cell phone (47% of those devices were smartphones) and 23% had a tablet computer. Mobility is just the tip of the iceberg. Interactivity is also a key element in the information lives of teens, with at least 81% of online teens using some kind of social media and sharing information about themselves more than ever (Madden et al, 2013a; Madden et al, 2013b). The PEW studies focus on teens but even young children are mediating important aspects of their lives through information and communications technologies, with more than five million children under the age of 10 using social media networks (Consumer Reports, 2011). And yet with all the hype about a new digital generation, it seems that young people still face considerable obstacles in accessing, using, and creating digital media. Through trial and error, “tinkering”, and hanging out with their peers, young people are finding ways to navigate their lives through digital media, but only the more fortunate have access to mentoring from knowledgeable, trustworthy adults. The rest just muddle through (Ito et al, 2009). From searching the web to constructing identity in social media; from printing objects with a 3D printer to remixing videos for personal expression, young people in the 21st century need strategies to help optimize their interactions with digital media. Those who learn such strategies will have an advantage over those who don’t. My research goal is to, first of all, to discover what those strategies might be and secondly, apply that understanding to the design of positive digital spaces for young people. This presentation presents a summary of my research on youth information interaction, situates the findings into a broader theoretic context, and considers the implications for design.
Leanne Bowler, PhD, is an associate professor at the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, where she leads the specialization in children and youth. She received her PhD and two master degrees (MLS, MEd) from McGill University, in Montréal, Canada. Her research and teaching interests lie in the area of youth information interaction, with a focus on intrapersonal knowledge and metacognitive practices. Her work traverses the disciplinary worlds of human-computer interaction design, communication and media studies, socio-technical studies, and the learning sciences. In recent research, Dr. Bowler has investigated young people’s views on mean and cruel online behavior through the lens of design. A paper reporting on the project was presented at the 2014 iConference in Berlin and received the Lee Dirks Best Paper prize, an award sponsored by Microsoft Research. Other research projects include the Mindful Making study, which looks at young people’s critical technical practices as creators of digital media, and the Teen Health Information study, which explores teen perspectives on the credibility of health information in Social Q&A. At McGill University, she was part of the research team that developed Bonded Design, a participatory design method with children and youth that is grounded in social-constructivist approaches to learning.