Factory Farm to Label

Today, factory farms are considered the most economical way to farm animals, with a simple goal to increase profits for big corporations, at the cost of animals, the environment and people.

Globally, it is estimated that around 50 million farm animals are raised for consumption annually and two thirds are factory farmed.

A Factory Farm is known as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), it is the process of intensive, industrial animal culture in inhumane factories. The farms often confine thousands, or hundred of thousands of animals in cramped conditions, being denied access to pastures to graze on, and enduring physical and emotional abuse.

Factory farming is not only abusing animals, but it also has devastating impacts on the environment, as the meat industry is the largest consumer of the worlds freshwater resources.

Most of us cannot bear to see animals suffer, that’s why the slaughter and mistreatment of livestock is secluded from our gaze. When consumers go to the supermarket, they are presented with a one-sided deceptive presentation of an animal product.

We see this.

And are blind to this.

Official PETA n.d, The Dairy Industry in 60 Seconds Flat, online video, Vimeo, viewed 25 March 2021, <https://player.vimeo.com/video/489171117&gt;.

And this.

PETA 2014, Where do eggs come from?, online video, YouTube, viewed 25 March 2021, <https://youtu.be/H0-CRX6uclI&gt;.

Due to the exposure factory farms by animal advocates, there has been some shift in the industry. For instance, animal welfare codes such as the Free Range Egg & Poultry Australia (FREPA) developed standards that cover the following factors

  • Free Range
  • Health & Welfare
  • Indoor housing
  • Biosecurity
  • Transport
  • Safe from predators

However, these standards still allow for chickens to be confined in shed until they are fully feathered, packed in at stocking densities of up to 15 birds per square meter under almost unrestricted artificial lighting.

It can be difficult for consumers to identify which animal product has the highest welfare, when there are labels such as ‘Grain Fed’, ‘Free-Range’, ‘GMO Free’, ‘RSPCA Approved’ and ‘Organic’. Generally speaking, the higher the welfare, higher the price. This could also be a huge factor why consumers continue for the, let’s call it ‘Green Label’ such as ‘Free-Range’ and ‘Grain-Fed’. When we, as consumers, have absolutely no idea of what has actually happened for that product to make it on the shelf.

If you want to learn more about how to identify the more ethical labels at the supermarket, Potter’s (2017) is a good start.

Why is this a problem in the Media?

The answer is simple, but complexed. It is simple because, in mass media and advertising, the truth is hidden. Why is it hidden? That is what makes it complexed.

Factory farms are only exposed by animal activists, never shown in mainstream media and advertising. This is why social media has become such a valuable tool for activist by providing a tool for people to communicate, raise awareness, share ideas and develop their own content. However, as mentioned before, we don’t like seeing animals suffer. We would rather pretend it didn’t exist.

So, what do we see in mainstream media and advertising?

Dairy Australia 2009, Dairy Good Circle of Life, online video, YouTube, viewed 25 March 2021, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUfYhEhLRmA&gt;.

We see marketing strategies constructed to help create, sustain and perpetrate a practice that is cruel and environmentally dangerous (Glenn, 2004).

What don’t we see? The truth.

This topic is something I feel passionate about, and with a marketing background, I would like to research this topic with a marketing lens. A interesting article raised the question regarding the misrepresentation of products that encourage consumption even at the expense of a consumers own interest.

Like cigarettes, meat and dairy packaging should include no nonsense factual warnings about the negative consequences of one’s consumption choices.

Thomas Wells

Wells (2014) introduces the idea of implementing ‘no nonsense factual warnings’ about the negative consequences on meat and dairy packaging for consumers. These ethical warning labels would inform consumers of the suffering involved in producing the animal products. And thus, hopefully influence consumers to be more conscious about their purchasing behaviors.

This topic is a serious matter. Not only does it address the ethical issues in the treatment of animals, but also ethical issues in marketing. This topic is significant to the greater society, future generations, the environment and animals.

References

FREPA 2021, What we do, FREPA, viewed 24 March 2021, <https://frepa.com.au/what-we-do/&gt;.

Glenn, C. B. (2004) ‘Constructing Consumables and Consent: A Critical Analysis of Factory Farm Industry Discourse’, Journal of Communication Inquiry, 28(1), pp. 63–81. doi: 10.1177/0196859903258573.

Pet Pedia, 2021, 41 Dreadful Factory Farming Statistics To Consider in 2021, PetPedia, viewed 24 March 2021, <https://petpedia.co/factory-farming-statistics/&gt;.

Porter, A 2017, ‘Ethical Meat’, Choice, weblog post, 14 August, viewed 23 March 2021, <https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/meat-fish-and-eggs/meat/articles/buying-ethical-meat&gt;.

Wells, T 2014, ‘The Case for Ethical Warning Labels on Animal Products’, ABC, weblog post, 7 January, viewed 23 March 2021, <https://www.abc.net.au/religion/the-case-for-ethical-warning-labels-on-animal-products/10099440&gt;.

Wholesome Culture 2021, The Ethical Issues of The Meat Industry You Need to Know About, Wholesome Culture, weblog post, n.d., viewed 23 March 2021, < https://blog.wholesomeculture.com/the-ethical-issues-of-the-meat-industry-you-need-to-know-about/&gt;.

Pitch

So, if you have been following my #BCM241 blog posts, you would have noticed I was dancing around my media niche, unsure of where to head exactly.

I knew my interest lays with mental health. I was on the pursuit for self-development, but found that this, is quite a large and A complexed media ‘niche’. I needed to narrow it down, yet again.

So, now we have it. Mindfulness.

I can now confidently say I know what my media niche is. How nice.

Below is my video pitch for the BCM241 research project.

Hopefully your standards were low. I can only improve from here?

In the pitch video I didn’t expand on my field site so much. Essentially, my field site consists of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. However, due to time restrictions, my main focus will be on Instagram, as this is what I spend majority of my time on in comparison to the other platforms. Plus, I feel people similar to me with the same interest would be too.

The Urban list identified 9 of the best mindfulness podcasts to listen to in which I will jump on. I mentioned in my pitch that I will be engaging in mindfulness activities with the applications of Headspace, Smiling Mind and Calm. No, I will not be making these applications compete for my approval. It is essentially to immerse myself in the culture of Mindfulness.

For the Digital Artifact (DA) I aim to create a personal narrative in the form of a creative blog. I would like to incorporate my creative design skills in the blog, such as making digital art collages and graphics. The DA will include relevant links to resources and profiles that I found to stand out in the field of mindfulness.

Thank you for reading.

Namaste.


References

Videos from Pexels

Cowley, N ND, blades of grass, video, Pexels, viewed 11 October 2020, <https://www.pexels.com/video/blades-of-grass-2480792/>.

Danilevich, O ND, a woman doing meditation exercises, video, Pexels, viewed 11 September 2020, <https://www.pexels.com/video/a-woman-doing-meditation-exercises-4352398/>.

Elliott, T N.D, a woman writing on a journal, video, Pexels, viewed 11 Spetember 2020, <https://www.pexels.com/video/a-woman-writing-on-a-journal-4596337/>.

Images

Calm (2020), about – calm blog, image, Calm, viewed 11 September 2020, <https://blog.calm.com/about>.

Smiling mind (2020), app – smiling mind, image, Smiling Mind, viewed 11 September 2020, <https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app>.

Tidbits (2020), Headspace app, image, Tidbits, viewed 11 September 2020, <https://tidbits.com/2019/10/14/headspace-a-guided-meditation-companion/>.

It is ethical.

Internet spaces can be understood as cultural, a place for people with the same values, customs and practices to gather. These cultures are filled with multisensory interactions such as emojis, gifs, texts, images and videos. These interactions, when put into context within a particular culture carry different meanings to that of other cultures. However, since we are so smart, we are able to decode and interpret them in various contexts. For example. The fire emoji 🔥. When put into the context of a social media user looking fabulous, it is interpreted as HOT! Dayummmmm. When used in the context of someone spitting some truth, they are on fire (not literally). Then someone might use it to express how hot it is in Australia. Can also be used to explain how LIT their weekend was. One symbol, can mean so many things depending on the coded context. 🔥🔥🔥

For my autoethnographic research project, I aim to immerse myself consciously in the realm of mental health on social media, with an attempt to discover and understand themes and how people communicate within them. Mental health is a sensitive topic, and has only recently become more of a topic of conversation due to advocates speaking up and out. To try and keep it real, my autoethnographic focus will be on the positivity of the raised conversation and how it has helped myself and others. When it comes to analysing the data I have collected, I will be looking for prominent themes, such as Sari Hokkanen had found embodied field experiences of feeling rushed, disgust and joy in her autoethnography of volunteer interpreting in Church (Hokkanen, 2017).

Social media platforms are commonly framed as spaces for expression, where people share their opinions, such as those on politics, social issues, their feelings or express themselves through memes (Winter, et. al 2020). This space also enables such articulations to be listened to. To participate on the internet, we must listen. Winter and Lavis theorise two types of listening on social media; ‘Active’ and ‘Adaptive’.

Active listening is the act of contextually engaging with the voices of plenty that surround each social media post, and that move beyond the post and into other topics and spaces (Winter, et.al 2020). This demonstrates why we should listen. Adaptive listening is simply, but not simply how we should listen. Adaptive listening offers a way to embrace the multiplicity and heterogeneity of online communities to forge a nuanced understanding of social media platforms and their distinct, unique cultures (Winter, et.al 2020).

Qualitative researchers situate themselves in a consciously value-laden territory in which human relationships and critical self-reflection loom prominently (Mertins 2014, pg. 510). They enter a realm of ethical dilemmas throughout the research process that go beyond legal requirements and professional standards. Ethical research procedures need to be considered and followed adequately and the use of the qualitative data needs to be considered. At this point, my research will be an autoethnography, but who knows what the future holds. I may stumble upon some awesome people willing to share their experiences and opinions. For that matter, I will ensure confidentiality upon their consent and completion of a participatory document. I will provide information about the research project, give them my contact details and ensure they feel free to bail at any time. When representing their data, I will not provide characteristic details that could expose their identity. Since my research project is based on social media, it is appropriate to share live links to public profiles and pages in support of my findings.

References

Hokkanen, S 2017, ‘Analyzing personal embodied experiences: Autoethnography, feelings, and fieldwork’, Translation & Interpreting, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 24-35.

Mertens, Donna (2014) Ethical Use of Qualitative Data and Findings, The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis (Edited by Use Flick), Sage: Los Angeles, 510 – 523.

Winter, Rachel and Lavis, Anna (2020) Looking, But Not Listening? Theorizing the Practice and Ethics of Online Ethnography, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics Vol. 15(1-2) 55 – 62.

Ok, I found a problem.

Growing up in a small town, I had dreamed of getting out and exploring the world and doing marvelous things. But to do that, we need money, education and a good head on your shoulders (mentally, not physically – although it seems attractiveness is the answer). The concept of bettering myself became clear, but the journey is always unknown. So, that’s when we turn to someone above, someone who has experienced it. Learn from their mistakes, absorb a healthy structure into our daily lives that then flourishes into a healthier and happier life. Sounds good and easy, right?

This concept of self-development has been around for years. But, today, in the era of internet technologies and a saturated market, who is real and who is fake? Taking on the role of being an influencer, you have a lot of responsibilities. The nature of this topic is very personal and sensitive. So, why do I see a large majority of people who are self-taught self-help gurus flooding social media rather then educated clinical psychologists or trained spiritual healers. I discovered this problem the deeper I went into my newsfeed. The algorithms handed me Instagram influencers with a passion for self-help instead of trained clinicians.

Why is this an issue?

Mental health should be taken very seriously. Yes, people can show their support by sharing content etc. But the issue arises when influencers who are not accredited or educated in the field, claim to have the answer. Mental health has always been a personal interest of mine. As Sarah Wall (2006) states, an initial engagement with a research topic occurs with an discovery of an intense interest that is not only meaningful, but has broader social implications. I believe this research topic would take the interest of others. Purely because, we can agree that social media influencers in the marketing spectrum take over our news feed, leaving the educated and accredited ones behind.

So how will I carry out this research task?

Through observation and autoethnography, I hope to obtain new knowledge about this topic as well as define a problematic feature, and narrow my focus on that aspect and synthesize it with theoretical frameworks. I hope to find an understanding of the broader social implications this problem has a input in.

My process.

The process will be a process itself, I have no clear indication on how exactly I will carry out this research task, or other elements and concepts that arise as I dive deeper. But at this point, I aim to follow more and examine influential accounts, both the educated and ‘claimed to be’. I will take part in journaling personally and observing others interactions with these accounts. In my journaling adventures, I will take note on my emotions, the time and place that I am engaging with the posts, and what type of posts they are. For example, late at night I scroll through an account with motivational quotes. Why is that? Do I want to reflect on it, and make a better day tomorrow? Or I find myself saving posts about anxiety and meditation. And why do I go on social media instead of helpful resources like Beyond Blue? This question bothers me.

My loose schedule.

References

Wall, Sarah (2006) An Autoethnography on Learning about Autoethnography, International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2).

One step closer to a narrowed niche.

I brushed over in the previous blog post that my media niche was going to be the subculture of self-development. Self-development in the media primarily exists in the online world, essentially because, heck, everything is online. The self-help book you bought at the store, its available as a audio book online.

In this blog post, I aim to narrow my niche by identifying the key players and it’s field site. A field site refers to the network of incorporated physical, virtual and imagined spaces (Burrell, 2009). Below, is my attempt of mapping the field site.

Like anything on the internet, Self-development as a online culture is huge and extremely complexed. It is tiring to think about all its deep, interconnected layers. To conduct an ethnographic study on social media platforms, we observe the online public’s and the fluid associations among people whom don’t actually know each other, channeled by a common denominator (Airoldi, 2018).

To grasp somewhat of an understanding of the ‘Self Development’ field site, It seems strategic to begin with a ‘research search’ in which distinguishes a ‘meta-fieldwork’ (Airoldi, 2018). Starting with Instagram, the aesthetically pleasing platform, filtered by hashtags and algorithms, I simply searched the hashtag #Selfdevelopment. This hashtag features 2.3 million posts, growing daily. Clicking on few of the top posts, this hashtag is in conjunction with the following hashtags…

#selfcare #selflove #selfdevelopment #selfimprovement #selfgrowth #selfmotivation #selfrespect #selfworth #personalgrowth #personaldevelopment #normalizenormalbodies

And the list goes on.

Having a click through the top posts, the accounts include a lot of Self-Discovery Coaches, Motivated Mindset Inspiration Quotes, Psychologists, Teachers, Grad Students, Fitness Trainers, Entrepreneurs, Motivational Speakers, Business and Mindset Mentors. This already begins to paint the picture of educated, motivated and healthy people. From my understanding at this point, these accounts would be the facilitators.

Let’s take a look at @myeasytherapy

This account is Dr. Michaela, a Clinical Psychologist, working in the field of Mental Health for over 10 years now. She brought her knowledge and experience to an Instagram page to make mental health wellness information accessible for everyone. Dr. Michaela interacts with Instagram users via using the applications question features on the stories. The posts are supportive and positive, providing information on mental health, motivation and affirmations for users to do. The persona of Dr. Michaela appears to be similar to others within the field site.

Another person I follow is James Clear, I have read his book ‘Atomic Habits‘. I have included James Clear as an industry leader, he not only does he have a best selling book and a strong social media following, but has also been interviewed by London Reel (see below). Both James Clear and Dr. Michaela have different professions, however they share a fundamental goal to destroy stigma around mental health, educate and support people to reach their full potential.

From being immersed in this culture myself, I understand how I interact with these professionals and influencers. If they post a heartwarming or related message, I jump on it and share it to my Instagram story. I hope for others to interact positively with it.

References

Burrell, Jenna (2009) ‘The Field Site as a Network: A Strategy for Locating Ethnographic Research’, Field Methods, 21:2, 181–199.File

Airoldi, Massimo(2018) ‘Ethnography and the digital fields of social media’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 21:6, 661 -673.

The personal growth influencer.

Humans are interesting, aren’t they? One moment they are hunting, gathering and killing themselves from eating unknown poisonous berries and next they are taking filtered selfies concerned with the number of likes they can get. Evolution is crazy. How would our ancestors behave if they jumped through time and landed here today?

Where am I going with this?

Well, I have always been curious about technology and its impact on our lives and mental and physical well being. Yes it has done wonders. But has it stripped us apart from our natural selves and mother nature? Do people prefer to communicate online rather than in person? Are we addicted to technology and is this unhealthy? The questions are endless.

Technology has immersed itself deeply into our daily routines, becoming a habit to check social media instead of checking in with ourselves or binge watch a series on Netflix. But the good news is, we can access some great people and information online (if you look for it).

Influencer’s dominate the media and are quite fundamental in a brands marketing strategy. Studying marketing has made me aware and more skeptical of social media influencer’s. However, my interest lays with the influencer’s in the realm of Mental Health, as I believe they have a positive agenda for society. They aim to encourage people to improve their mental health, transform their life and to become the happy successful person they aspire to be.

I can’t pick the day that my journey in ‘Self-development’ began. I do remember, having yet another downer of a day. I was in the shopping center (which I hate) and Harry Hartog caught my eye. I remembered my coach talking about this book ‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck’ by Mark Manson. So I went in, it was over in the ‘Self-development’ section. I probably spent 30 minutes looking at all these glorious books by these inspiring authors, already planning my next purchase.

After reading the book, I bought his next one ‘Everything is Fucked’. I really enjoyed reading these books, and getting back into reading. I enjoyed it so much that I shared it on Instagram, Classic… Friends responded to my post, sharing how these books had helped them through a tough time and shifted their perspective on life. This inspired me more.

So, for my BCM241 ethnographic project. My ‘Media Niche’ will be (subject to change) the subculture of self-development, in which sits under the umbrella of Mental Health. Ethnography is the observation and analysis of the patterns and processes in human activity. It explores cultural phenomena through methodological research processes (Christine & Immy, 2011). Autoethnography is the study of the individual experience in order to understand a cultural experience (Christine & Immy, 2011).

This ‘niche’ includes key industry leaders that have their own websites, best selling novels, podcasts, strong social media followings and conduct meaningful webinars. It also includes social media influencer’s without an academic degree that inspire their dedicated followers. It also includes people like me, an average person interested in the topic for personal reasons. Investigating ethnography will not only deeper my understanding of the niche, but I may undergo so personal growth myself.

Being fascinated by this topic, it would be interesting to understand why and how other people have made this journey. It goes beyond the influencers sharing their wisdom. It has developed a movement among the people. More and more I see people (who are not influencers) share their about self-care and their morning yoga routine. However, like many things, this could be a fad or just for the gram.

https://giphy.com/gifs/loG7TbqLitOPTVfg3o

References

Daymon Christine and Holloway Immy (2011) ‘Ethnography’, Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications. Routledge: New York.

Balancing university and a pandemic

2020, please slow down.

Society was beginning to recover from the drought, bushfires and floods. Then you hit us with an outbreak of a virus and into a national lockdown we went. This pandemic is bigger than we had expected, affecting all aspects of society and life.

How is this affecting university students?

This research project for BCM212, a core subject of Communications and Media at University of Wollongong was designed to grasp an idea of how students balanced the stress of a pandemic and their university workload.

There are limitations to the project, the main ones are.  Firstly, the convenience sample of the BCM212 students does not accurately represent the population of university students, let alone the whole population of the BCM212 students. The sample size is rather small for a statistical test and thus is difficult to find significant relationships with the data. Secondly, there is limited research regarding students experience during a pandemic. Thirdly, personality traits are a variable that affect social media behaviour and the response to a global pandemic. Finally, the sample size is not clearly diverse and have no indication on age or gender, in which would also be a variable in social media behaviour.

With that said, let’s continue.

Since the pandemic, students at University of Wollongong as well as other Universities transitioned to remote learning. This impacted students’ routines, learning experience and mental health. In one of the surveys, 13 out of 14 students said their study routine changed due to Covid-19. Following this question, a large majority of the students said this change made them feel stressed, anxious and nervous. The question “Do you feel Covid-19 has impacted your motivation to study?” received mixed responses. 61.1% of the 36, had agreed that the pandemic had negatively impacted their motivation to study.

“moving everything online has been difficult for me personally because I struggle to find motivation for online learning”.

Further responses included “I have a higher level of anxiety and being at home gives me more options for procrastinating”, “yes, more stress, work load has tripled and really not coping” and “yes, moving everything online has been difficult for me personally because I struggle to find motivation for online learning”. In contrast, other students said “It has motivated me in a good way, I have a lot of time on my hands and I feel as though I need to make most of this time”, “It has probably made me more motivated, just because it’s something to do” and “I study more since I have more time”. The relationship here is time, and how it is spent, in which is dependent on variables such as personality traits, environment and lifestyle.

The picture painted here is time, and how we spend it. Which, from my perspective is dependent on variables such as personality traits, environment and lifestyle.

The transition to remote learning caused students to be more active on social media, as 86.1% of the 36 respondents said their social media use had increased.  Social media during this time was both a blessing and a curse, as people were able to connect with each other during isolation, the platforms also became facilitators and multipliers of Covid-19 misrelated news (Ali & Kurasawa 2020). 63.9% of the respondents claimed their social media was full of Covid-19 news. A student said that seeing the Covid-19 news made them “constantly feeling overwhelmed and trying to control anxious thoughts and stresses”.

“constantly feeling overwhelmed and trying to control anxious thoughts and stresses”

Stress, depression, anxiety and a preference for online interactions are the expenses of social media addiction and obsessive behaviour (Chugh 2020). It was recorded that 94.5% of the 36 respondents spend over 2 hours a day on social media for non-university purposes. Of this result, 38.9% admitted to spending 3-4 hours and 16.7% admitted to spending over 5 hours a day. Majority of the respondents reported they simultaneously swapped through the following applications; Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Tik Tok. A study reveals social media multitasking is associated with higher stress and anxiety (Becker, Alzahabi & Hopwood 2019). 91.6% of the respondents found themselves mindlessly scrolling through social media.

When studying, 63.9% of the respondents said their phone was on their desk and 25% said they turned it on ‘do not disturb’. Essentially, these results demonstrate our dependency on smart phones and social media, as we ensure they are in our sight, we are multitasking and evenly scrolling through social media without intentions.

Although the impact of the pandemic on student engagement has not been thoroughly researched to acquire enough results for a strong opinion. I believe it is clear this topic requires attention by professionals across the education and mental health industries, to support students during a crisis and to develop a healthy relationship with technology.

Remember, we are not alone. Your mental health is a priority, your happiness is essential and self-care is a necessity.


References

Ali, H & Kurasawa F 2020, ‘#COVID19: Social media both a blessing and a curse during coronavirus pandemic’, The Conversation, 22 March, viewed 26 May 2020, < https://theconversation.com/covid19-social-media-both-a-blessing-and-a-curse-during-coronavirus-pandemic-133596>.

Becker M, Alzahabi R, & Hopwood C 2013, ‘Media Multitasking is Associated with Symptoms of Depression and Social Anxiety’, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, vol 16, no.2, pp. 132-165.

Chugh R 2016, ‘Addicted to social media? Try an e-fasting plan’, The Conversation, 4 April, viewed 25 March 2020, <https://theconversation.com/addicted-to-social-media-try-an-e-fasting-plan-56804>.

BCB212 Reflection

The research project has now come to an end.

As a result, I have developed basic skills and an understanding of the process designing and developing a research project (emphasizing the basic skills).

Due to my research topic being based around student’s well being, academic performance and social media use, the nature of it could be sensitive to some. I ensured that my approach was ethical. However, I feel I tiptoed around sensitive topics. In which, could have fractured the project’s purpose.

Limitations in the project have been a good learning curve. As I read over and developed relationships with the data, I find what I was missing in the project, variables. I have discovered that variables such as personality traits, environmental factors, economic factors, peer factors and other contributing variables to one’s lifestyle, have significant influence on the results. For instance, one’s personality can have a healthier interaction with social media and be more engaged academically. Whereas, other personalities can be dependent and distracted by social media, making them disengage from their studies. The response to a global pandemic is also dependent on previous life experiences and mental health. However, due to the time limitations of the project, capturing these variables would have been difficult and still, limited.

Planning and reiterating were a major part of the process. At the beginning of the project, I was well organised and well equipped. However, circumstances changed and I had not kept to the schedule. I had iterated in two components of my project, firstly, being behind I had to change plans in order to meet the due date. Secondly, when the results came through, I had noticed I needed more statistical data for the project, so I made a second survey.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the BCM212 subject. The topic of my research project resonated with me as I felt I had lost a lot of motivation due to the pandemic and having to isolate. I found myself be more engaged (unintentionally) on social media and it had impacted my mental health. Seeing the responses roll in, it was comforting to see that we are not alone.

Breathe Mental Health GIF by YouTube

Research Proposal: Social Media Addiction lowers our Academic Performance

The birth of the internet brought us closer and made us smarter…

This paradox could be true, could be false. Up to you.

My intended research topic is the impact social media has on academic performance. Social media are online platforms that enable users to create, share content and participate in social networking. Social media has grown exponentially, becoming a significant part of our lives and our daily routine. 72% of the Australian population have actively adopted social media and statistics show an 10% increase of users each year.

Thanks to smartphones, connecting to people has never been faster and easier. However, our relationship with smartphones and social media can be negative, as we can become addicted.

A multitude of studies showed that technological addictions, including addictions on the Internet and social networking sites, had positive associations with stress, anxiety, and depression and negative association with academic performance, all of which negatively affects satisfaction with life (Samaha 2016). There are various forms of anxiety which includes excessive worrying, a sense of fear, restlessness, overly emotional responses and negative thinking (Vitasari P 2010).

The Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences research found a correlation between high levels of anxiety and low academic performance (Vitasari P 2010). A study from Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking investigates the relationship between people’s media multitasking and depression and anxiety (Becker 2013).  This multitasking behavior is the use of smart phones for texting, checking social networks, surfing the web, playing games and listening to music whilst in class or studying.

Ritesh Chugh, Senior Lecturer CQ University Australia presents the realities of social media addiction in Australia, states the expenses of addiction & obsessive behavior result in:

  • Poor social relationships
  • Isolation
  • Compulsivity
  • Stress
  • Victimization
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Exhibitionism
  • Preference for online interactions.

Ritesh introduces strategies for users to practice, so they can build a healthier and less toxic relationship with social media, through discipline and self-control (Chugh 2010). Understanding and managing our emotions are essential for our well-being and are key to academic success (MacCann 2020).

To strengthen my understanding of this topic and to develop a somewhat successful questionnaire, I will research symptoms of behavioral addiction. Understanding these signs, I will tailor my questions to point out the underlying behavioral patterns. From the brief research I have conducted, I put up two polls on twitter for the BCM212 students. My aim for these two questions was to discover the amount of time spent on social media for non-university related purposes and how much students check their phones.

I received the following results.

41% of the respondents spend 2-3 hours on social media a day.
62.5% of the respondents check their phone often when studying.

These results suggest our high dependence on social media and smartphone. No one had turned their phone off to avoid distractions when studying and 62.5 % check their phone, this could suggest obsessive behavior. From doing some research for this topic, I can see the relationships between our addiction to social media, anxiety and academic performance.

This research project will be beneficial not just for my own self-development but my peers as well. As we discover and become aware of bad habits we have built, we can educate ourselves and find healthier process that enable us to reach our full potential.

This topic resonates with me, because I have found myself over the years becoming more addicted to social media and it affecting my mental health. Being aware of this, I notice its potential to impact my academic performance. This topic is accessible and relevant in today and for our future selves. Mental Health as a topic can be quite sensitive, I will take into account of this and be as ethical as possible.

References:

Becker M, Alzahabi R, & Hopwood C 2013, ‘Media Multitasking is Associated with Symptoms of Depression and Social Anxiety’, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, vol 16, no.2, pp. 132-165.

Chugh R 2016, ‘Addicted to social media? Try an e-fasting plan’, The Conversation, 4 April, viewed 25 March 2020, <https://theconversation.com/addicted-to-social-media-try-an-e-fasting-plan-56804>.

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A BCM212 Research Project

#mycuriosity

Social Media – do we use it or abuse it?

Social media has grown exponentially, becoming a significant part of our lives. 72% of the Australian population have actively adopted social media and statistics have shown an 10% increase of users per year.

From my personal experience, I know social media can be very distracting. I have gone through the process of deactivating and deleting accounts, promising myself that I will never return. – Contact me through text

However, due to the nature of society and it’s attachment (I will call it) to social media, I had signed back up. Work and University both use social media to communicate.

Unfortunately, I have found myself, checking my social media accounts a lot more than I had intended to.

Being aware of this, I have noticed its potential to affect my performance during my studies. Has it become a bad habit? Am I addicted? How much is it affecting my mental health? I could be using this time for studying, making healthy foods, sleeping and exercising… You know, the healthy habits that would help us reach our own full potential.

The relationship between social media and mental health has always been something I have been interested in. Having an understanding of this, I would be able to help myself and others. I feel in this technological world we live in and the drastic growth of social media, we have not been prepared for the negative implications.

Research Project : The Student Experience

#MyCuriosity is the relationship between social media and our ability to perform our best, academically.

The topic is extremely broad, with many pathways to go down. I could research the positive or the negatives. I will, however, focus on the negatives. Because from my perspective, I feel we are quite addicted to social media. I would like to discover other students’s feelings about social media and how they feel it affects their academic performance.

Now, obviously there are other contributing factors that can be affecting academic performance.

This could be our bad habits such as:

  • Pulling all nighters
  • Leaving assessments to the night before
  • Eating crap foods with no nutritional value
  • Procrastination

Sound like you? To be honest, it sounds like me. I have come to blame my addiction to social media. I feel, if I could control my use of social media, I could effectively follow through with my goals.

What’s my plan?

Research symptoms of behavioral addiction, read previous studies of social media addiction and begin designing a questionnaire.

Due to time limitations of the research project, I must narrow down my question to a finer element of the student experience.

It will go something like this..maybe.

The relationship between Social Media and our…

  • Study habits
  • Sleep routine
  • Time management skills
  • Self-worth
  • Focus