My Culminating Project

THE ISSUE:

For my culminating project, I wanted to focus on the negative effects of technology, specifically regarding physical communication and the barriers that it creates. As time has gone by in the semester, I have found this topic increasingly more interesting, as unfortunately, it does pertain to me. As we have seen throughout our studies and coursework, technology is advancing at an increasingly rapid rate, which doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. As I previously mentioned, I am a culprit of the problem and a byproduct of the issue. Being so, I know first hand (mostly because my parents tell me) that I am “addicted” to my phone and social media, along with many of my peers and I know that the effects can’t be good. As we have read recently, face-to-face interactions with people are becoming minimized and are regarded with much less importance than technological communication. Additionally, means of technology seem to effect people in all realms and may not be all beneficial. Specifically, this issue seems to have a very large effect on the age group of children and teenagers, and there seem to be unfortunate implications regarding their future…

THE RESEARCH:

When I first started my research, I searched by broad standards, looking at studies and articles with effects of technology on the general population, and then I furthered my search. I wanted to look at effects of technology on children and adolescents, primarily because I grew up in the generation when this issue started and where it is probably most prominent in regards to implications for the future. One of my articles that I found, titled, “Media and Technology Predicts ill-being Among Children, Preteens and Teenagers Independent of the Negative Health Impacts of Exercise and Eating Habits” looked at the impact of technology in four main areas of ill-being for children: psychological issues, behavioral problems, attention problems, and physical health. The subjects of the study were among children (aged 4-8), preteens (9-12), and teenagers (13-18) and was conducted through an online survey completed by their parents. The results of the study suggested that while age is a variant in regards to the population of children/adolescents analyzed, technology appears to have a harmful effect on health. It was found that screen time allotted to children by their parents should be minimized so that the children can obtain optimum health, specifically in regards to physical health. Screen time has been shown to reduce physical activity in all of the populations of the subjects’, which can lead to a multitude of diseases. In addition, screen time has been shown to induce poor eating habits, which also gives rise to diseases such as obesity, diabetes and different types of cancer.

Below is the link to a very cool TED Talk by Social Historian Allison Graham about how social media actually makes us unsocial
Similarly, I found a somewhat more broad article that encompasses the issue at its core and what I originally wanted to look at – an article titled, “The Effect of Social Network Sites on Adolescents’ Social and Academic Development: Current Theories and Controversies”. The research from this article analyzes what we have spent a lot of time talking about: social media networks, which in this case for purposes of the study, was coined the acronym “SNS”. The researchers from this study found that while social capital may be a positive gain from SNS sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Beyond this, it was discovered that peer influence is related to safety behaviors in SNS. For example, if someone’s friend were to make their Facebook privacy setting “public”, then there would be a higher chance that they would do the same thing as well. In addition, there have been many cognitive behavioral issues such as cyberbullying that have linked to the usage of technology and SNS in adolescents. 
After I read these articles, I was stunned. While we looked at articles such as Sherry Turkle’s “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk” and learned the consequences of technology on communication (which is what I originally wanted to research), I did not know the other facets of the issue. It’s hard to believe that this is how our society operates, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. I wish I wasn’t able to say that I am not a byproduct of this issue (which I definitely make worse on myself), but I am. I try to limit my technology use but find myself constantly checking my phone and my own social media apps. Maybe (hopefully) now after researching on this topic and delving further into it I will try to be more cognizant of the issues I am creating as well as worsening for myself and my future…

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: 

In regards to making this blog, I found it extremely fascinating and interesting not only learning more about WordPress, but coincidentally writing about the use of technology on such a widely popular technological platform. I can’t say this isn’t ironic, but I can say that this was at least informational as compared to the SNS I engage with…
This topic is especially important to discuss because as we are transcending into a virtually technology based world, we need to be aware of the effects and implications that it has on society as well as the future generations to come. Particularly regarding the facet that social media networks cause such behavioral and physical issues, it is important to raise awareness so that these issues do not become worse and so we can ameliorate the issue at hand. If we do not talk about the problems with technology use, then they will only multiply.
On a more personal note, it’s pretty ironic that this is what I’ve chosen to focus my final project on. As I mentioned earlier, I am one hundred percent effected from this issue and I definitely contribute to the cause – there’s no denying that. I don’t mean to make myself out to be someone who is constantly on their phone and not paying attention to real life, but I would say that I need to watch myself so these issues that I researched do not become my full fledged reality. My mom and step dad constantly tell me to get off of my phone, and I try – I really do. But when you’ve grown up in a generation where everything is based off of technology, it’s pretty hard. And it’s not just me! Really. The other night at dinner I caught them being hypocrites…
I showed them this picture and they were speechless… And they didn’t tell me to get off of my phone for the rest of the night…

WORKS CITED:

Ahn, J. (2011). The effect of social network sites on adolescents social and academic development: Current theories and controversies. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology,62(8), 1435-1445. doi:10.1002/asi.21540

The Impacts of Technology. (2013, April 15). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=790hLh9KCb8

The Nation. (2018, March 28). Excessive use of technology in children. Retrieved from https://nation.com.pk/28-Mar-2018/excessive-use-of-technology-in-children

The Negative Effects Social Media Can Have On Relationships. (2018, April 24). Retrieved from https://studybreaks.com/culture/negative-effects-social-media-can-relationships/

Rosen, L., Lim, A., Felt, J., Carrier, L., Cheever, N., Lara-Ruiz, J., . . . Rokkum, J. (2014). Media and technology use predicts ill-being among children, preteens and teenagers independent of the negative health impacts of exercise and eating habits. Computers in Human Behavior,35, 364-375. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.01.036

T. (2014, November 10). How social media makes us unsocial | Allison Graham | TEDxSMU. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5GecYjy9-Q

 

 

Reflection on Module 14

While I looked at the many options for writing this weeks assignment about reflecting on Module 14, I couldn’t help but have the urge to go on a tangent and rant about my own thoughts, irrespective of the prompts given.

Most of this week’s material was focused on the influence of technology on our lives and specifically, what it means for the future in terms of the ways that we communicate with one another, how we learn, and so forth. In Sherry Turkle’s op-ed piece in The New York Times titled “Stop Googling, Let’s Talk”, this topic is highlighted. This issue speaks on multiple levels to me – being a student, using my iPhone for means of communication and learning both in and outside of the classroom, but also as a regular 21 year old female senior graduating college, trying to navigate her life and figure out the next steps.

My phone is never far from me. And if it is, I start to panic for multiple reasons: one being, where did my phone go? did I lose it? Another being, what if I can’t find my phone and there is an emergency that I won’t know about? And a third major reason, how will I stay in contact with people? I think these are issues that everyone who grew up in the 21st century worries about, and most people in our society who use technology. I wish that this weren’t the case, but we invest so much of our time and lives into portraying and subjecting ourselves onto the internet and our social media apps on our phones that we forget how to communicate face-to-face.

And this is what Turkle is talking about. In the article, she touches upon the idea that using phones in social settings may hurt the dynamic and conversation and weakens the bond between those conversing. Again, I wish that I could take myself out of this equation, but I definitely partake in this problem. As I previously mentioned, I am constantly on or near my phone. It actually can be a major part of a conversation, as I may have something to show my mom or my friends and no substantial auditory conversation can do it justice besides showing them what I am talking about on the tangible device.

Turkle goes on to argue a very interesting point of which I happen to agree with. She talks about something she learned about from college students called the “rule of three” where you have to check if at least three out of however many people you are talking to are paying attention to what you are verbally talking about to them. I think that this is SO important with what is going on in today’s day and age because so many people get so distracted so easily. Often times, I find this happening in my life with either my friends or family. In fact, while this usually happens with my friends and people who are around my age, something funny happened last night when I was out to dinner with my mom and step dad. They were both on their phones, and I had to grab their attention and joked that its “lovely having dinner together” because they weren’t paying attention to what I was saying. So I definitely get it. And then other times when I am with my friends, usually a large group of them, I know before I say something important that I have to preface it with telling them to put their phones away, because phones are such a big component of our daily lives and social networking.

Image taken from https://apessay.com/order/?rid=cc49f4f3231bb03f

And then I thought of the other side of this debate. As I mentioned in our Hypothes.Is regarding this article, one of my best friends is starting a full time job at Google come graduation. I see from her perspective how important the Internet is and how important Google is to our daily lives and functioning, whether it be for lax purposes, work, or academics. People can be so invested in figuring information out and having a thirst for knowledge that they can literally be inundated with Google and their phone. I think I fall in the middle of this. I have a thirst for knowledge and love to learn more about all realms of life. However, I see how detrimental it can be to a conversation and how it can strain relationships.

That’s another thing. Whether it be romantically, or just as friends, or a work relationship, the phone makes conversations and relationships have blurred lines. You never know how a person is feeling through a text message, and often times things can be misconstrued and taken a completely different way than they were meant to be carried out. This can then lead to further issues, and it can be a downward spiral from there…

I can’t say that I have a solution to this, or that I’m completely on either side of the argument, but I do know that there needs to be a solution, and I am worried that with technology advancing, these issues are just going to get worse…

Media Manipulators

After reading the Media Manipulation report, I found the research to be horrifying. I had no idea that all of this was going on with the media, and let alone that the media and the information that I’d been reading and receiving had been completely manipulated and made into something else that has not been entirely authentic and true “facts”.

While this report talks about a multitude of subculture groups that have manipulated the media, among them being internet trolls and alt-right groups, the one that I found to be the most interesting is in regards to the “Manosphere”. The “Manosphere” consists of certain blogs and other forums on the internet that are solely dedicated to discussing masculinity. In the “manosphere”, there is a subculture titled “Men’s Right’s Activists”, MRA for short. As written in the article, the MRA “eschew’s feminists in favor of women who adhere to traditional gender roles”. In my opinion, the most shocking information of all that I found out is how they actually manipulate the media. The MRA try to gain their recognition and popularity through spreading a wealth of information about family law, parenting, reproduction, compulsory military service, and education. What they do though, is even more shocking. These people who belong to the MRA manipulate the media by attempting to prove the validity of their information through analyses that are blown out of proportion, such as claims that “men and boys are victimized; that feminists in particular are the perpetrators of such attacks; and that misinformation, political correct- ness, and the liberal agenda are used to hide the truth from the general public”. 

https://sophieologie.me/tag/mens-rights-activists/

By doing so, they form a fan base, and therefore, like any other group especially on the media, their fame rises and they become more well-known. Therefore, the media is attracted to them and the information that we as readers receive and learn from is now being manipulated to an extent that is unfortunately pretty hard to control right now.

https://datasociety.net/pubs/oh/DataAndSociety_MediaManipulationAndDisinformationOnline.pdf

Whats in a Meme?

For one of our assignments this week, we had to make a meme that illustrates a point of view of Facebook. I thought that this assignment could not have come at a better time, especially considering everything that has been going on in the news with Mark Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytica.

For my meme, I decided to make one of a baby making an angry/annoyed face and I stated, “When people post their entire life on Facebook… Does it look like I care?” While this doesn’t have to do with the scheming that had happened recently in the news, I feel that it conveys a strong message of how a lot of people feel. While some people use Facebook as a diary, they do forget that it is a social platform meant to engage with people, and not just write how they feel.

I think my meme is the type where people would agree if they saw it, or “retweet”, but I don’t think a lot of people would willingly say it. Because a lot of people participate in this type of behavior, which is kind of ironic. I tried out a few different memes and am not the most visually creative person, so it was a little difficult coming up with a final meme, and more so the message to go along with the meme. I wanted to make sure that both worked well together and were cohesive, and that it didn’t come along as something otherwise.

With the presidential election this past year, memes were extremely popular, for both major political parties. I definitely think that this had some traction in swaying votes for the election. One can argue that there were more/worse memes for Hilary Clinton, and one can argue that there were the same for Trump. Even so, they definitely had leverage on people’s opinions. Political messaging is extremely important, and as we have seen not only in the election, but also recently with Zuckerberg’s court appearance due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, they circulate extremely quickly. And everywhere. Memes are a great way to spread messages, and some even become so famous that they become the center of the issue.

I think that memes make people reflect on their opinions, and can either sway them one way or another, and in a sense help people form them, because someone is stating how they feel.

Privacy Dialogue Reflection

Over the past few weeks, I have been given the opportunity to explore privacy issues regarding the digital world. Specifically in regards to the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, as students, we were asked to contemplate our own positions on this matter, as well as our family members. For those who may not know, Facebook recently took a plummet in its standings due to the scrutiny that had begun to question the nation. This scrutiny started because of the leakage of millions of Facebook user’s personal information for the 2016 Presidential Election. As a result, Facebook has been under investigation, and just last week, Mark Zuckerberg spoke before congress on behalf of the social media platform.

Image taken from https://medium.com/m/global-identity?redirectUrl=https://blog.datadoesgood.com/the-facebook-scandal-underscores-why-were-building-a-better-future-for-data-aaab95bcd9e4

Though unfortunate that this happened, because of it, I did fortunately get to hear some unique perspectives on the issue from those in my own social circle. A few weeks ago, Dr. Taub had us do an assignment where we created a Voice Thread and interviewed a person of our choice about the scandal, their reactions, and if their opinions of Facebook changed because of it.

For the assignment, I decided to interview my step-dad. I chose him because I knew he would have a very strong opinion, irrespective of what it may be. When I asked him if he would consider not using the social media site anymore, he adamantly stated that the issue definitely made him consider it, as he is a very private person to begin with. From this interview, I also learned that regardless of the generation, issues of privacy seem to affect all of us at a generally equal rate. To Americans, because we are “promised”, privacy equals a high level of importance.

However, while this is the case, I find it very interesting how so many people are willing to share so much of their information on the internet. Myself included, very well knowing that my data is out there and that it is essentially impossible for it to be erased, I still share private information for the public. Even though it’s a bit of an oxymoron because I still do it, I wonder why our privacy cannot be kept under wraps, no matter what we are promised.

My reactions are similar to those of my classmates. After listening to their thoughts and the opinions of those that they interviewed, it seems as if our nation is at a standstill. We know there is an issue, we say we are going to fix it, we say we are not going to share as much information, we are promised maximum security, but will this ever happen? I wonder…

 

https://medium.com/m/global-identity?redirectUrl=https://blog.datadoesgood.com/the-facebook-scandal-underscores-why-were-building-a-better-future-for-data-aaab95bcd9e4