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Youth civic development amid the pandemic

Sara Wilf, Laura Wray-Lake, J. Abigail Saavedra

We reviewed recent research on youth civic development during the COVID-19 pandemic. We found that social media became the primary context for youth to make their voices heard and mobilize around important sociopolitical issues like anti-Asian racism, police violence, and elections. However, youth experienced civic development in different ways during the pandemic. Some youth gained a critical awareness of societal inequities, while others were radicalized into far-right ideologies. Racially minoritized youth experienced vicarious trauma and racism while civically engaging in 2020, and their civic development must be viewed in the context of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and structural racism.

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Development and Validation of the Youth Sociopolitical Action Scale for Social Media (SASSM)

Sara Wilf, Laura Wray-Lake​

Youth sociopolitical action, which encompasses a broad range of behaviors to dismantle systems of oppression, is increasingly taking place on social media and digital platforms. This study presents the development and validation of a 15-item Sociopolitical Action Scale for Social Media (SASSM) through three sequential studies. Published in the Adolescent Research Review in 2023.

Shifting Culture and Minds: Immigrant-Origin Youth Expressing Critical Consciousness on Social Media

Sara Wilf, Elena Maker Castro, Kedar Garzón Gupta, Laura Wray-Lake​

In this study exploring 32 immigrant-origin (I-O) youths' online civic engagement, we analyzed 2,203 Twitter posts collected over a 6-month period (on average 69 posts per participant), and interviewed 11 participants. Using a critical consciousness framework, we identified three broad themes: Using Critical Reflection to Shift Culture and Minds, Navigating and Drawing on Multiple Identities, and Building Collective Political Efficacy. Findings contribute to a growing body of literature on how I-O youth are harnessing social media as agents of their own, and their peers’, development. Accepted in Youth & Society (2022).

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“That’s How Revolutions Happen”: Psychopolitical Resistance in Youth’s Online Civic Engagement

Sara Wilf and Laura Wray-Lake

Framed by literature on critical consciousness and psychopolitical resistance to oppression, findings highlight three forms of online youth civic engagement: Restorying, Building Community, and Taking Collective Action. Implications: These findings indicate that, for youth with identities that have historically been marginalized, social media is an important context to be civically engaged in ways that resist oppression and injustice. Published in the Journal of Adolescent Research (2021).

Adolescence during a pandemic: Examining US adolescents’ time use and family and peer relationships during COVID-19

Laura Wray-Lake, Sara Wilf, Jin Yao Kwan, Benjamin Oosterhoff

This study used a person-centered approach to describe distinct profiles of time use and examined the role of demographics, parent conflict, parent support, and friend support in differentiating time use profiles. Using a non-representative national U.S. sample of 555 adolescents, latent profile analysis of hours spent in 14 activities in a typical day identified three typologies of time use. Published in Youth (2021).

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Laura Wray-Lake, Burkhard Gniewosz, Celina Benavides, Sara Wilf

In this chapter in Positive Psychology: An International Perspective, we argue that civic engagement is multidimensional (i.e., comprising behaviors, values and attitudes, knowledge, and efficacy), fundamentally rooted in interactions between individuals and communities, contextually-based, and culturally-determined. Taking a developmental and cultural perspective, we highlight micro- and macro-contextual factors that play a role in cultivating youth civic engagement.

Laura Wray-Lake, Sara Wilf, Benjamin Oosterhoff

Recently, researchers and policymakers have raised the question of whether the right to vote should be extended to 16 and 17 year olds. The purpose of this chapter is to chart the voting age policy landscape in California and Los Angeles. First, we review the history of policy regarding changing the minimum US voting age, highlighting past endeavors to expand the voting age nationally and internationally and then focusing on California and Los Angeles. Next we provide novel data on public opinion of voting age policy from youth and adults in Los Angeles. In concluding, we summarize implications and policy recommendations for voting age change in Los Angeles and the State of California.

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