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Research

Weinstein and James are social scientists who are passionate about bridging research and practice. They focus on relevant, impactful work that keeps youth voice at the center. Together and separately, their studies explore implications of growing up in a world with unprecedented technology use. Research projects include:

Interested in supporting our research?

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Reimagining Digital Well-being is a co-design project with youth geared toward improving digital well-being and reimagining interventions with teens at the design table. Key outputs to date include:

  •  “The Grind” thinking invitation and a Maker-Project for Teen Digital Well-being that can be led by teens for peers, or by adult facilitators in afterschool settings or classroom contexts. (Email emily_weinstein@harvard.edu for a pre-release copy of these resources.)

  • The research team also recently completed a review of currently available lessons/curricula keyed to supporting healthy digital media use.

  • Weinstein is currently supporting a teen-led project using wearable devices to monitor physiological changes in response to digital habit changes (full vs. partial social media detox).

Digital Wellbeing

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Seeded by James and Weinstein’s work as part of MacArthur’s Youth and Participatory Politics research network and early studies of digital civic expression and dialogue (see examples herehere, and here), James and Weinstein continue to do relevant work on civic life and learning. James directs the design-based research team of the Democratic Knowledge Project, which produces civics curricula and professional development for educators. James also co-directs the global online learning community, Out of Eden Learn. Her work has also explored arts engagement as a powerful entry point for civic dialogue. 

Civic Life

Weinstein and James are currently leading a collaborative pilot to create high school lessons that leverage evidence-based practices from clinical psychology (e.g., CBT skills) to build “HX.”  Short for Human Experience, HX is an approach to talking about, engaging with, and designing technology in a way that is aligned with our needs as humans. HX has particular relevance for teens’ experiences. Key collaborators in this work include Sophia Choukas-Bradley, Jacqueline Nesi, Brian Galla, and Beck Tech. With Mimi Ito, James is also currently co-editing an HX essay collection.

HX LEARN

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The digital dilemmas project involved surveys with more than 3,500 teens about pain points relevant to digital life and co-interpretation of findings with a teen advisory council. Findings from this research are featured in Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (And Adults Are Missing). Taking a holistic approach, we explore the opportunities and challenges of digital life and the importance of differential susceptibility. This approach builds on Weinstein’s prior research on the social media see-saw (see here), social comparison on social media (see here), and experiences of youth hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and behaviors (see here). 

Digital Dilemmas

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With social psychologist Sara Konrath, James and Weinstein are conducting research with a national sample of adolescents to develop a validated measure of mindful digital engagement. After the scale development process is complete, the next step for this project (beginning Fall 2022) is to test and evaluate an original intervention intended to boost Mindful Digital Engagement among middle schoolers. 

Mindful Digital Engagement

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A multi-year initiative involving large-scale surveys and in-depth interviews with educators, as well as classroom observation to identify pedagogies fundamental to digital life and digital citizenship. Key findings from this project inform the award-winning Common Sense Digital Citizenship curriculum. Signature thinking routines and digital dilemmas resources are available as part of the Common Sense Curriculum and Project Zero’s Thinking Routines Toolbox. (Building on this research, James and Weinstein are writing Teaching for Digital Life, a new book for educators that is under contract with Wiley/Jossey-Bass with expected release in late 2023.) 

Dispositions for Digital Life

Research on young people’s digital lives is a crucial and ever-shifting frontier. This work would not be possible without the generous support of current and past funders. For the above projects, these funders include:  

The Susan Crown Exchange 

Mind & Life Institute

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Germanacos Foundation

The Spencer Foundation (New Civics Initiative)

Funders that have supported the team’s work in collaboration with Common Sense Media include The Bezos Family Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The Sherwood Foundation.