Matt Rafalow is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Sciences (Sociology) at the University of California-Irvine and researcher for the Connected Learning Research Network.

His research primarily centers on younger generations (millennials, generation y+z) and technology/new media, though he also studies particular uses of tech with colleagues in other research areas (dating, social movements and news coverage). Recently, as a scientist at Yahoo! Labs, he studied how youth conceptions of privacy inform their mobile app communications. His work with the Connected Learning Research Network, which is part of a larger book in development with the Leveling Up team, focuses on how youth “game to learn” in different contexts. From this, he has written about games, gamification, and reputation online; gender differences in online participation; and design supports for parent engagement with their children.

His dissertation explores how new media technologies are taken up and evaluated in different organizational contexts. Tech researchers often ignore that institutions shape whether and how people use the technology available around us. For this project, he explores the challenges schools face to implement new and innovative education technologies; parents’ role in cultivating kids’ tech choices; and youth peer effects on tech habits and preferences for various desktop and mobile platforms. The hope is to use this work to support youth, parents, and schools in identifying opportunities with tech for achievement and also improve UX and design strategies for these populations.

Prior to Irvine, Matt received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Gender Studies from University of Richmond, and a master’s in Human Development (Sociology+Education) at Columbia University’s Teachers College. When not doing research, he’s quite active with LGBTQ outreach both locally through mentorship and more broadly online.

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