Архив метки: Penn State

Limiting social media use reduced loneliness and depression in new experiment

The idea that social media can be harmful to our mental and emotional well-being is not a new one, but little has been done by researchers to directly measure the effect; surveys and correlative studies are at best suggestive. A new experimental study out of Penn State, however, directly links more social media use to worse emotional states, and less use to better.
To be clear on the terminology here, a simple survey might ask people to self-report that using Instagram makes them feel bad. A correlative study would, for example, find that people who report more social media use are more likely to also experience depression. An experimental study compares the results from an experimental group with their behavior systematically modified, and a control group that’s allowed to do whatever they want.
This study, led by Melissa Hunt at Penn State’s psychology department, is the latter — which despite intense interest in this field and phenomenon is quite rare. The researchers only identified two other experimental studies, both of which only addressed Facebook use.

Phone-addicted teens aren’t as happy as those who play sports and hang out IRL, new study suggests

One hundred and forty-three students from the school were monitored for three weeks after being assigned to either limit their social media use to about 10 minutes per app (Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram) per day or continue using it as they normally would. They were monitored for a baseline before the experimental period and assessed weekly on a variety of standard tests for depression, social support and so on. Social media usage was monitored via the iOS battery use screen, which shows app use.
The results are clear. As the paper, published in the latest Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, puts it:
The limited use group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring.
Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being.
It’s not the final word in this, however. Some scores did not see improvement, such as self-esteem and social support. And later follow-ups to see if feelings reverted or habit changes were less than temporary were limited because most of the subjects couldn’t be compelled to return. (Psychology, often summarized as “the study of undergraduates,” relies on student volunteers who have no reason to take part except for course credit, and once that’s given, they’re out.)
That said, it’s a straightforward causal link between limiting social media use and improving some aspects of emotional and social health. The exact nature of the link, however, is something at which Hunt could only speculate:
Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram, it’s easy to conclude that everyone else’s life is cooler or better than yours.
When you’re not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you’re actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life.
The researchers acknowledge the limited nature of their study and suggest numerous directions for colleagues in the field to take it from here. A more diverse population, for instance, or including more social media platforms. Longer experimental times and comprehensive follow-ups well after the experiment would help, as well.
The 30-minute limit was chosen as a conveniently measurable one, but the team does not intend to say that it is by any means the “correct” amount. Perhaps half or twice as much time would yield similar or even better results, they suggest: “It may be that there is an optimal level of use (similar to a dose response curve) that could be determined.”
Until then, we can use common sense, Hunt suggested: “In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life.”

Limiting social media use reduced loneliness and depression in new experiment

500 Startups-Funded OneSchool Raises $750K For College Student-Focused App

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OneSchool, a free mobile app for college students which provides easy access to maps, course schedules, directories, bus routes, news, student groups and more, is announcing its official launch today in eight universities around the U.S. The company is also revealing it has raised $750,000 in seed funding from 500 Startups, Learn Capital and Magnolia Ventures.

The startup, which had the honor of being the first to raise angel funding after participation in the minority-focused accelerator called NewMe, is also graduating from 500 Startups‘ fall class next month.

For those unaware, what OneSchool aims to offer is a single, mobile destination for college students to find everything they need about their campus. This includes the above-mentioned student directories, course listings, maps, groups, etc. There’s even a bulletin board-like feature dubbed the “Wall,” which is like a dumbed-down version of Facebook’s own Wall, supporting only text posts and image uploads (the latter coming soon). The application is available for the mobile web, iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, and requires an @edu address to sign up.

Currently more social utility than social network, OneSchool has been up-and-running in these eight schools since late August, but was in “testing mode” until today. It now supports Penn State, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, UCLA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Houston and the University of Waterloo.

To be clear, OneSchool isn’t partnering with the schools here – it’s pulling in publicly available information, and making it available in a useable mobile format. Based on demand, there are now 150 schools on the company waitlist, the company says. That’s one reason why they’re now considering creating a proces that would involve crowdsourcing techniques to get new schools online faster. However, no such tools are publicly available at this time.

In terms of market positioning, the company hopes to capitalize on the ubiquity of smartphones on college campuses today. “In 2008, just 10% of students across the country had smartphones,” says Co-founder and CEO David Adewumi, “but just last year, 57% of students were connecting to the Internet from their smartphone.”

Although some colleges and universities may have their own mobile applications, they don’t often include the kind of info students really need. The apps often are focused more on press releases and info for prospective students than on their current student population, the company found. There are also few schools that have even produced such an app, period. Says Adewumi, of the 4300 schools across the country, just 270 have a dedicated mobile application.

Clearly, the demand for this type of app has been high. At Penn State, the first school supported, OneSchool estimates that 83% of the iPhone and Android users on campus have adopted the app (based on current smartphone adoption rates). That’s 16,000 downloads out of 31,000 students, 18,000-20,000 of whom own a smartphone. Across the rest of the schools, around 50% of the undergrad population have done the same.

In addition to CEO David Adewumi (24), OneSchool’s young founders include CTO Pindi Albert (18) and Zach Johnston (20). David and Zach met at a fraternity at Penn State, where David’s father is a professor, and decided to create an entrepreneurship group there. Pindi, whose parents are also professors at Penn State, attended high school with David prior to joining OneSchool.

Adewumi says the idea for OneSchool came to him when he saw how much students were using their smartphones, including snapping photos of homework problems and texting them to friends for help.

“Students are really using their smartphones, but there wasn’t anything for them in a college-specific environment,” explains Adewumi. “Kids have had mobile phones for four to five years before coming into college. For most of these kids, their smartphone is their primary computing device…We saw that trend and realized there’s a big opportunity to deliver [OneSchool’s content] on mobile devices.”


500 Startups-Funded OneSchool Raises $750K For College Student-Focused App