University of Southern CaliforniaResearch focus: Digital equity, cyberbullying, racial discrimination, and online interventions
Dr. Tynes’ research examines the racial landscape adolescents navigate in online contexts. Using a range of methods -- qualitative, quantitative, and mixed -- she studies the messages adolescents and emerging adults send and receive about race. Despite early arguments that the Internet would erase race, her research the past 15 years has shown that race is a common topic of conversation and though the majority of race-related dialogue is positive, the negative messages suggest that social ills related to race are reproduced in online settings.
Tynes and colleagues were the first to create a multidimensional measure of online racial discrimination. The Online Victimization Scale assesses both individual (direct) and vicarious experiences that students may witness. Using this scale, her team has found discrimination online to be related to depressive symptoms, anxiety, and problem behavior over and above offline experiences. She has also published longitudinal studies of how online victimization is related to mental health and academic outcomes over time. Findings show that online racial discrimination -- including receiving negative messages about your intelligence and being represented as an animal -- is associated with lower academic motivation. Students exposed to increased online racial discrimination endorse the idea that school is important less often and they have lower self-efficacy than students who receive little to no negative messages.
An additional line of inquiry in Tynes’ work focuses on the protective function of adolescent cultural assets in the face of online racial discrimination. These studies have primarily aimed to understand how aspects of student culture such as familism, a sense of identification and belonging to one’s ethnic heritage and Africentric values, may buffer against negative outcomes typically associated with online victimization.
Tynes is also creating online interventions to facilitate adolescent development of critical media literacy. She developed the first crowdsourced rating app, called Rate My Media, to assess various forms of media on issues of equity and inclusion. Her research team is also designing CRITmetic, an app that trains youth to critique race-related material online. Initial field tests and a randomized controlled trial will be conducted on this app during the 2017-18 school year. Visit Dr. Tynes’ website.
Reach out to Dr. Tynes on Twitter to say THANK YOU for the psychological research that she does! And be sure to use the hashtag #thankascientist.