iSchool Assistant Professor Dr. Radhika Garg received Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) Honorable Mention for Best Paper. CSCW promotes research in the design and use of technologies affecting groups, organizations, communities, and networks. Dr. Garg’s paper, “Understanding Tensions and Resilient Practices that Emerged from Technology Use in Asian Indian Families in the U.S. During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” explores how Covid impacts dynamics around technology use within Asian Indian families with teens in the U.S.

In addition to Dr. Garg’s paper, iSchool professor Carsten Østerlund earned Honorable Mention and Recognition for Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion for his paper,” ‘Jol’ or’ Pani’?: How Does Governance Shape a Platform’s Identity?” with Dipto Das and Bryan Semaan of the University of Colorado Boulder. Their work explores how sociotechnical systems support and impede the identity of communities with a long history of colonialism. 

Joshua Introne and Isabel Munoz, both of Syracuse, earned a Recognition for Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion for “The Narrative Tapestry Design Process: Weaving Online Social Support from Stories of Stigma” with Semaan of the University of Colorado Boulder. Their work explores technology-based approaches to support people living with HIV. 

Talking about the paper, Dr. Garg noted, “As an Asian Indian immigrant, this work is very close to my heart. In this study, I could explore how Asian families struggle and deal with a pandemic while in the United States. As soon as the pandemic hit us all, I thought we needed to better understand technology’s role in this period of disruption so that we can design better solutions.” 

Dr. Garg, in this work, explored how the change in technology mediation led to tensions between parents and teenagers during the pandemic and how families used technology as a source of resilience. One finding was parents increased the amount of time they allowed their children to use devices but imposed restrictions in other ways. Some parents created schedules for internet use, so everyone wasn’t online at the same time, which impacted the way teens used the internet in private spaces of homes, while others imposed new activity or context-based restrictions on the internet.

This award-winning paper of Dr. Garg also looked at the differences between high and low socioeconomic Asian Indian families with teens. Teenagers took on more of a caregiver role in lower socioeconomic (SES) families, helping siblings navigate online school and activities. Teens from these families felt they had identity within the family and were part of the decision-making process. In high-SES families, parents applied new context-based restrictions, which confused the teens. However, one of the things that were common in both groups was that families exhibited correspondence bias. Both parents and teens claimed that the other’s behaviors were intentional and grounded in personal choice, whereas their own actions attempted to navigate the changes caused by the disruption.

On the positive side, across all socioeconomic levels, technology was helping parents and children open up about topics that culturally Asian Indian parents and teens don’t discuss, such as dating and marriage. Dr.Garg also found technology was helping Asian Indian families to form informal virtual communities during the pandemic. “I noticed that in high socioeconomic families, people formed informal groups, which were inter-racial, to continue teens’ extracurricular activities in some form,” says Dr. Garg. “For example, if someone knows how to play piano, they would get together and do online piano classes. For lower socioeconomic status families, their needs were more about information about employment or tangible essential resources, such as free online services, sharing or exchanging groceries.” Those families, Dr. Garg explained, would help each other with technology-based challenges like applying to jobs or writing a resume. However, these groups were not inter-racial for fear of judgment or stigma. 

At Syracuse University, Dr. Garg is a co-director of the Human-Centered Computing and Design (HCC+D) Lab. The lab focuses on sociotechnical work, exploring the complex relationship between information and communication technology (ICT) and the social world composed of human and non-human entities.