Wellesley Centers for Women
Dr. Linda Charmaraman is a research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, the National Institute on Out of School Time, and a former National Institute of Health Child Health and Human Development postdoctoral scholar. Since receiving her Ph.D. in Human Development and Education from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, Dr. Charmaraman has been conducting research and evaluation on projects funded by The Department of Education, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kellogg Foundation, Schott Foundation for Public Education, United Way, Borghesani Community Foundation, and Aids Action Committee of Massachusetts. Her research background includes longitudinal evaluation, web-based surveys, ethnographic fieldwork, conducting interviews with multiple levels of site participants, using photography as a technique for qualitative inquiry, media document analysis, content analysis, and youth outcomes monitoring.
As a complementary follow-up to her Media & Identity online survey study of over 1200 young people aged 12-25 from the US and abroad, Dr. Charmaraman will interview a subset of 30 participants from the larger study in order to analyze the following research questions: (1) How does the use of media and social networking communities influence adolescent risk or resiliency, given potentially negative media stereotypes or stigma about one or more of their social identities, such as race/ethnicity or sexual orientation? (2) Why and under what circumstances do adolescents use media and/or social networking to connect with others of a similar, potentially stigmatized, background? Is connecting with similar others through media outlets associated with better coping with stress from one or more of their social identities?
A short-term goal is to increase understanding about how media and social networking can affect vulnerable adolescents’ psychological health, sense of identity, and self-worth. Future directions beyond this project include developing media- and social-networking-based learning modules that can increase adolescents’ resiliency in the face of vulnerability created by alienation and stigma from mainstream communities, and that can be embedded within larger “interventions” that target specific issues. The larger aim is to enhance the potential of vulnerable adolescents to take personal responsibility for improving their health and the quality of their lives.
My New Connections Experience
My hope is that the New Connections program will forge new alliances and partnerships with diverse healthcare professionals and settings as well as expand my analytical repertoire. It’s a rare opportunity to be able to bridge interdisciplinary perspectives and learn from the collective work of potential collaborators who have a similar passion in improving the lives of vulnerable populations. I am excited to be working with a new mentor at Childrens Hospital Boston, Center on Media and Child Health, who could expose me to innovative media-based research methods and foster new institutional connections. I look forward to the coaching provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on how to conduct public-oriented evaluation that makes a practical and policy-oriented difference on our communities. This would make a tremendous impact on my career as an independent research scholar who understands the critical need to translate community health research in ways that incorporate the historically silenced voices of disadvantaged individuals.
My research career has focused on disenfranchised adolescent populations’ development. Risk and resiliency have been the angles from which I have studied positive urban youth development, media consumption and production, racial/ethnic identity, interpersonal violence and bullying, sexuality, and dropout prevention.
- New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
- Award Year: 2013
- Project Name: Examining the potential of social networking to promote resiliency among adolescence vulnerable to negative views of the mainstream media.