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Twitter and Teenagers: An Interview With Gili Rusak

Sara Bellum
November 19, 2013

Gili Rusak is a junior in high school. She won an Honorable Mention 2013 Addiction Science Award. Her project explored the characteristics of teens who use Twitter and how Twitter can be used to spread prevention messages among teens. After receiving her award, she told the writers of the Sara Bellum Blog about herself and her winning project.

How did you start doing addiction science research?

I began this research with a mentor who pointed me in the general direction of doing research on social networks, especially Twitter. My brother also encouraged me to begin research in the computer science and data mining field.

What inspired you to start addiction science research?

The thing that inspired me to start this research was that I personally use Twitter and Facebook. I saw these online social networks as a great part of my own life and the lives of students around me. Since social media is such a vital part of teenagers’ lives today, I believed that there could be many positive applications that could come out of studying this age group. Additionally, after conducting a review of the literature, I found that there were no papers that provided statistics about teenagers on Twitter.

What was the most challenging part of doing the research you submitted to the Addiction Science Awards?

For me, the most challenging part of this project was coming up with ideas of what to study and analyze, since my mentor let me make those decisions by myself. To help me, I read a lot of literature on my subject and used similar techniques to those others have used for data analysis on Twitter. I conducted most of my research, wrote all the data collection codes, and created all the analyses by myself.

Do you plan on studying science and continuing research in the future?

I plan on continuing this research, especially looking further into Twitter as a platform to prevent drug use.

In college, I plan on studying science and continuing research because it really intrigues me to study something that has never been studied before. I will probably study computer science, some of which I used for this project.

Do you have any recommendations for high school students interested in doing their own research?

I would recommend that high school students who are interested in research go after something they are passionate about, because when you do research, you have to be willing to commit time and thought to it.

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