Student Research: Working to Mitigate Sexual Dangers for Teens Online

By: Simone Rousseau on

Afsaneh Razi is working to develop software that will help keep teens safe from sexual propositions online.

She conducts her work in the Socio-Technical Interaction Research (STIR) Lab at the University of Central Florida. Her area of interest is at the intersection of human-computer interaction and machine learning, and she seeks to understand how new technology and social media disproportionately affect at-risk populations, especially teens.

“Teens encounter online sexual solicitations quite often,” says Razi “With my research and background in computer science I can help detect these risky interactions and develop interventions to improve their online safety.”

Parents determined to protect their children from online risks often choose somewhat invasive means of doing so, Razi explains. These restrictions create barriers to the child’s ability to freely browse the internet and may reflect a lack of trust between parent and child. Razi suggests the solution lies in online platforms using machine learning to determine when teens are encountering online risks. The tools she is currently working on would deliver just-in-time interventions and resources to help teens navigate these situations on their own and with the help of their parents.

Through the STIR lab, led by Assistant Professor Pamela Wisniewski, Afsaneh will also be presenting at the ACM CHI 2020 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. She will be presenting her paper, which provides insights on how teens seek support online regarding their online sexual experiences. Her work recommends the creation of a platform for teens to seek support regarding their sexual interactions online and would provide guidance on how to seek safety from dangerous interactions before victimization occurs.

With new research trends in human-computer interaction popping up every few months, Razi is determined to both understand and impact this ever-changing online world.

Razi plans to present her findings at the Graduate Research Forum during Student Research Week March 30-April 3.

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