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NSF awards Fails, House and Ziker for research on the digital ecology of fear

NSF awards Fails, House and Ziker for research on the digital ecology of fear
Left to right: John Ziker, Kendall House and Jerry Fails

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a transdisciplinary research team at Boise State a $299,997 Early concept Grant for Exploratory Research for their work titled “Evolutionary Insights into Digital Ecologies of Fear” that sheds light on a new theoretical framing: the digital ecology of fear. Over the two-year grant period, Jerry Fails, Department of Computer Science, and John Ziker and Kendall House with the Department of Anthropology, will meld and adapt human-computer interaction and anthropology methods to better understand the impact that fear has on the ecology within families. The project focuses on perceptions and responses of parents of children in middle-childhood, a critical period in human life history.

Technology has impacted families for years, and as usage (and fears) have grown throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic, both academia and the broader media publicize and discuss the negative impacts of technology. The researchers seek to gain insights that will inform the development of digital environments that more accurately align online dangers and parental fears and to discern any differences with analog environments.

This work has the potential to impact cybersecurity for families by revealing factors that influence the ecology of fear as related to technology within families. This framework can then guide the development of tools that are designed to help families feel and be safe.

Visit the National Science Foundation website for more information on this award.