From the August 2016 Desktop News | With the help of a prestigious $7,500 Google Policy Fellowship, given to university students who have an interest and aptitude for internet and technology policy, UA doctoral student Jessica Mendoza spent her summer interning with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, called iKeep Safe, in order to help youth, their parents, and educators better understand how to use digital media safely and responsibly.
“Everything is impacted by the way we use technology,” Mendoza said. “And one of our hopes at iKeep Safe is that students will consider how something as small as a comment on a YouTube video can reflect who they are and affect the person whose video it is.”
At UA, Mendoza studies cognitive psychology and the way technology—from video games to emailing—influences cognitive processes, but she said that, after a while, it’s easy to get bogged down by journal articles and research.
“Sometimes you get lost in all the articles and you can’t see where your work is going,” Mendoza said, “So I wanted to find an internship that related to my research but would also help me apply it to the real world, and iKeep Safe has done just that.”
Over the years the iKeep Safe Coalition has developed a myriad of products and tools to help increase cyber safety and responsibility among youth—including curriculums for K-12 educators. As a part of her internship, Mendoza was able to help construct methods for assessing how well students are learning and applying these tools.
Using her second-language skills, she was also able to translate many of the curriculums into Spanish so they could be used for wider, international audiences.
“I’m a first-generation college student, so this has been an incredible experience that will continue to influence my research,” Mendoza said. “I am honored to have been chosen by Google for this fellowship.”