Monday, September 24, 2018

Students on a social media detox #ecil2018

Maria Murumaa-Mengel and Krista Lepik from the university of Tartu presented on some research project that aimed to explore how disruption of habitual social media use reshapes the information needs and practices of young adults. They focused on perceptions of the pace of time and its pace without social media, and whether restricting social media use affected self-reflexivity on its use. There is an acceleration of social time, we are always in a hurry, and social media facilitates the rapid production and consumption of information. Relationships rely on our “connected presence”.

Participants were asked to stop using social media for 5 consecutive days, this was a “homework” task for BA students, and data was collected in 2017 and 2018. 42 students participated, and they were aged 19-23, 27 female and 15 male. Students kept a diary of their experiences. Data was analysed thematically. The beginning of the “detox” it was clear that students planned the 5 days when they were expecting a slower pace of life e.g. visiting family, or a period of intense work. Some participants felt they “gained time” and this meant they could increase their productivity, or had “too much time” and filled the time with another media, e.g. news scrolling, or met their affective needs by bingeing on Netflix, and supported their social needs by replacing social media interaction with phone calls and meet ups. Others expected an abundance of time, and ended up over planning their days. Others felt they “wasted” time, and life was unpurposeful, slow and aimless because activities were not accompanied by social media. Some found a virtue in a slower pace, and transferred this slow tempo to other activities. There was a perception that it freed one up to think about oneself and their own situation. Participants made significant preparations with their social network to tell people what they were doing and why, and took pride in their choice. The detox increased the amount of time spent on face-to-face communication, and friends had to change their communication practices. Many participants celebrated the end of the detox, and had a social media binge. In the long term they undertook decluttering activities to unfollow groups and simplify their social media use.

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