November 18, 2013
Mount professors Frances R. Spielhagen (left) and Paul D.
Schwartz (right), CARD co-directors, discuss “Social Media and
Adolescent Risk Behaviors.” Other presenters included Ludmila
Smirnova, professor of education (seated, far left) and Alex
Valentin, director of information technology (seated, far
Educators from Mount Saint Mary College and beyond examined the
challenges “digital native” adolescents face – and how to use
technology to teach them – at “Adolescence in the Digital Age,” the
fourth annual conference of the college’s Center for Adolescent
Research and Development (CARD).
The conference consisted of five powerful presentations: “Social
Media and Adolescent Risk Behaviors” by Mount professors Frances R.
Spielhagen (education) and Paul D. Schwartz (psychology), CARD
co-directors; “Digital Resources for the Common Core State
Standards” by Ludmila Smirnova, professor of education at the
Mount; “Cyberbullying and Other Web-Based Crimes” by investigator
Christopher Jones of the New York State Troopers; “Digitalk:
Literacy Concerns in the Digital Age” by Kristen Turner, associate
professor at Fordham University; and “What’s New on the Digital
Horizon?” by Alex Valentin, director of information technology at
The proliferation of technology – from computers and cellphones
to ever more elaborate video game consoles – has created a complex
digital world for today’s adolescents, explained Spielhagen.
“The social interactions which have nurtured people to adulthood
have changed in definition, thanks to Facebook and Twitter,” she
Thus, there is a “remoteness” not present in other generations,
“If you think of all the traditional psychologists, they say
that maturity comes from connectedness. So how do we define that
connectedness, and how do we define that interaction?” she asked.
“That might be a challenge for our digital natives moving
At least, that’s what it appears to be.
“I wonder if, in fact, adolescents still have their ‘best buds,’
and they are redefining what it means to be connected,” Spielhagen
said. “That’s the question we’re all facing: What does this
What it could mean for educators, according to Smirnova, is a
new way to reach their students.
“Our students have changed as learners,” she said. “With the
right preparation and understanding, teachers can use the power of
student learners, enhanced by technology.”
For example, Smirnova demonstrated a program called Nearpod for
mobile devices, which can engage students with classroom surveys.
The program produces instant results, so it can be used to assess
prior knowledge before beginning a new unit, or as a way for
students to express opinions during a roundtable discussion.
Valentin presented a brief study on social media, blogs, wikis,
and other tools “to enhance your classroom and teaching
experience,” he said. “Apps can be fun and open new roads to
Spielhagen and Schwartz recently edited “Adolescence in the 21st
Century: Constants and Challenges,” consisting of topics presented
at prior CARD conferences. The upcoming book features chapters
written by Mount Saint Mary College faculty and others, on topics
such as communication between adolescent daughters and their
mothers (Debra A. Hrelic, PhD, RNC); the changing definition of
what it means to be literate (J. David Gallagher, PhD); how to
increase religious tolerance in adolescents (Margaret Murphy, OP,
PhD); the case study of a child born with a positive toxicology to
crack cocaine (Rae Fallon, PhD); how service-learning projects can
prepare students for the workforce (Moira Tolan, PhD); and
increasing communication skills in adolescents with autism spectrum
disorder (Irene Van Riper, EdD).
CARD was established at Mount Saint Mary College in 2009 by
Schwartz; Spielhagen; Sarah Uzelac, associate professor of
psychology; and Amanda Maynard, associate professor of
- Providing services related to measurement development,
administration and analysis for school districts, agencies, and
other entities, including publication of research related to these
- Hosting research conferences to promote collaboration among
researchers, educators, service providers, and policy makers
working with adolescents;
- Developing educational outreach programs for other educators as
well as the general public and parents;
- Creating web resources for a “one-stop shop” for all things
adolescent for general public, parents, and educators, including
text recommendations, research updates, other websites and online
- Developing a collaborative research agenda for center
For more information, visit card.msmc.edu