Dr. Emily Weinstein studies the intersections of networked technologies with the social, emotional, and civic lives of adolescents and emerging adults. Her research on digital technologies draws on a variety of methodological approaches, including digital post analyses, interviews, surveys, focus groups, and experiments. Dr. Weinstein's published work appears in interdisciplinary journals, including New Media & Society, Computers in Human Behavior, Journal of Adolescent Research, and International Journal of Communication. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Project Zero, a research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Outside of her academic research, Weinstein collaborates with Common Sense Media on the development of free programs and resources related to digital citizenship; she also works regularly with teens, families, and schools. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Weinstein was appointed Instructor in Education at Harvard, where she taught a new course (H610h) on Adolescents and Social Media. She holds a Master's degree (Ed.M.) in Prevention Science and Practice and a Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Human Development and Education, both from Harvard University.
Weinstein explored adolescents' personal accounts of socio-digital stress through a thematic analysis of posts to MTV's forum for the A Thin Line Campaign. Based on her examination of 2,000 personal accounts, Weinstein (with Selman, 2014) proposes a distinction between two 'types' of digital stress. Type 1 stressors, which are motivated by hostility, include Mean and Harassing Personal Attacks, Impersonation, and Public Shaming and Humiliation. Type 2 stressors, which transpire in the context of navigating close relationships in a digital ecology, include Breaking and Entering into accounts and devices, Smothering quantities of communication, and the Pressure to Comply with requests for digital access and/or content (e.g., nude photographs).
Weinstein and her colleagues draw on the digital stress framework in a subsequent analysis of peer recommendations for coping with socio-digital challenges (see Weinstein, Selman, Thomas, Kim, White, & Dinakar, 2015). They find that the most common recommendation for coping with hostility-oriented (Type 1) issues is to Get Help - most often from adults and authority figures - while Cutting Ties with the relational partner is most common for issues that arise in close relationships (Type 2).
Online Civic and Political Expression
Weinstein investigated approaches to online civic and political expression through a study of 70 U.S.-based civic actors aged 15 to 25 (see Weinstein, 2014). Drawing on individual semi-structured interviews, Weinstein characterizes the relationship between offline participation and online expression among civic youth in terms of “blended,” “bounded,” and “differentiated” approaches; she finds that a blended or expressive pattern is most common, and describes five sets of considerations that lead individuals to adopt particular patterns.
Weinstein (with Rundle and James, 2015) followed-up with participants two years after their original interviews in order to explore whether – and, if so, how and why – young civic actors changed their approaches to online expression. This second study documents a group-level shift to quieting or silencing civic expression on social media, and point to related social trends and implications.
Studies using psychometric tests document declines in creativity over the past several decades. Weinstein, with colleagues Clark, DiBartolomeo, and Davis, (2014), explored whether and how this apparent trend would replicate through a qualitative investigation using an authentic nontest measure of creativity. The group analyzed 354 artworks and 50 creative writing works produced by adolescents between 1990–1995 and 2006–2011, and documented strong domain differences. Performance in visual arts increased on a variety of indices of complexity and technical proficiency, while performance in writing decreased on indices related to originality and technical proficiency. Based on their findings, Weinstein and her colleagues argue for the importance of considering cultural and technological changes in order to contextualize apparent trends in creativity research.
*The aforementioned studies of civic and political expression were conducted as part of the Good Participation Project with support from the MacArthur Foundation via the Youth and Participatory Politics Research Network. The creativity study was conducted as part of the Developing Minds and Digital Media Project with support from the James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation.