Sara Carlsen

Headshot of Sara Carlsen

Student Spotlight | Summer 2019

Major: Film & Media Studies, minors in Journalism and English

Describe your research/creative work in just two sentences that we can all understand. When we discuss parents and social media, they are often seen as distant users or as the police of their children's usage. I would like to investigate further usage and policing tactics by distributing surveys and conducting interviews relating to parental perception, policing, and participation in social media.

Q: Who mentors your project?

A: Dr. Germaine Halegoua from the Film & Media Studies Department. I was inspired to create it after her New Media & Society class which explored similar issues to those I am researching.


Q: What surprised you about doing research?

A: Sometimes listening to others provides more information or context than reading peer-reviewed journals on the subject. The input that people have on this topic has been especially interesting and surprisingly passionate. It often feels like people have made up their minds that social media is either all bad or all good. I want to hear from people about the in-between of those two options.


Q: What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?

A: The lack of a structured area like a lab to work in makes my project more difficult. This aspect has exemplified how essential time management and self-policing are. Since I conceptualized and initiated the project, it is up to my mentor and I to oversee its completion.


Q: What do you like most about your project?

A: I truly believe in the impact of this research. We all have parents and most of us have multiple stories about their behavior towards social media as we were growing up. My generation of "digital natives" must understand the experiences of those older than us and how those experiences may impact the children they are raising.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

A: Believe in the validity of your ideas. We all have ideas about concepts that we would like to explore or questions that we have about the world, so why not answer them? There is nothing like the pride that you feel as you design your own project and find the explanation to the problem that you perceive.


Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working on your research?

A: I work at KU Marketing & Communications producing video content for social media. It has been a dream to both attend and work for KU. I have witnessed firsthand how much the staff and faculty care about the success of the university and its students. If I'm not there, I am listening to podcasts, missing my dog, watching video essays, or at Taco Bell.