Week 4: Assignment Pitch – ‘Separation Anxiety’

My parents always taught me that if you’re having a conversation with someone, you do everything you can to look them in the eye, and you certainly don’t use your phone in front of them. In this hyper-connected world, I struggle to remember conversation’s I’ve had with friends recently who haven’t taken their phone out for some reason. Whilst for some this is common practice, I for one might be part of the small minority of young people who find this to be pretty rude.

I use my friend who I talked to on the duck pond lawn last week for an example. We sat there over lunch, catching up over all walks of life. I throughly enjoyed this, however couldn’t help but notice the presence of his mobile phone in his hand for the entire conversation… Literally. Every few minutes or so he would check the screen. Most of the time it would be promptly put back down and ignored, but every few minutes there would be a conscious effort to reply to a Snapchat or text message.

So why is it that as 21st century people we feel so obliged to constantly stay connected to our phones? Are we accustomed to being in more than one place at a time, Or are we simply subject to a separation anxiety of sorts without our social media channels? My first post touches on the idea that if you weren’t the first to see it, you might as well have not seen it at all, right? Sherry Turkle provides a fascinating TED talk on the idea that modern technologies have given us the ability to feel ‘Alone Together’ – who believes as a society we are losing the ability to relate to one another, as well as ourselves and our capacity for self reflection.

Touching on this notion, I would like to analyse social media use for the current generation of young adults which would be relevant and beneficial to my studies (18-22).

I intend to conduct interviews with people I know and have access to, gaining insight into how much they use social media, and indeed how and why they do this. I will also challenge these people to ‘Log out’ of their respective media channels to see if their daily attitudes or habits change, as well as if they struggle to function in social situations without the ability to look at their phones. I can measure this by checking their data usage on each social media application if given permission to do so. I also intend to ask a series of questions before and after the experiment, such as.

  • How long a day do you spend on your phone?
  • Do you feel anxious without knowing where your phone is?
  • Do you look at your phone if you’re talking to someone?
  • Do you look at your phone when you first wake up?
  • How many social media sites do you have?

In doing this collaborative research I will ensure that I am conscious of abiding by the MEAA code of ethics to ensure I am not surpassing ethical or moral boundaries as a researcher. I will report my information independently, honestly, fairly and respectfully.

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Week 3 – Media audiences and Ethnography

After reading a number of blogs this week i’ve found the majority of people of the baby boomer generation that saw television first released in Australia reflect on this as a positive experience. The introduction of television in Australia saw the dynamic of family homes drastically change, so much so that evening activities were dictated by what programs would be televised. Analysing this research can be incredibly versatile and useful on a number of scales. As media students it is important to weigh up the qualitative and quantitive strengths of media research. This can help us determine what affect media technologies have had or continue to have on topics such as television which is relevant to our studies.

The most effective method for analysing such research is to employ what Luke Eric Lassiter (2005) refers to as collaborative ethnography. Ethnography is the scientific study dedicated to the customs and habits of people within specific cultures. By nature, it is a collaborative process as it looks at gathering data on society and its practices. Ethnography often provides a deeper understanding of information that cannot be provided by raw statistical data – as it gives insight into what audiences feel, how they react as well as how fictional content affects their interpersonal relationships and personal lives simultaneously.

Dave Lange’s Audience Research Blog highlights the relative strengths that collaborative research possesses. If the correct moral and ethical standards are applied such research can be extremely beneficial for research, as it provides a more holistic view of relevant data. One example would be the relationship people have with specific television shows, including what influence they may or may not have on a person. Raw statistical data can only provide basic information such as ratings and duration of viewing. Collaborative ethnography can therefore be relied upon to enhance the quality and validity of data collection which is different from individual research, as it is more representative of a larger body. Furthermore collaborative research inherently is designed for a modern approach to learning as it is heavily reliant on the study of new technologies. Moore’s law of technology progression is built on the capacity of integrated circuits, which doubles every two years. With it we double the capability of the circuits and it’s applications. When considering such a process in relation to collaborative ethnography,  research in turn becomes more quantifiable, providing a well rounded and holistic view of relevant data.

Whilst collaborative research is responsible for providing a more cohesive view, it also has limitations which are essential to consider when conducting studies. There are strict moral and ethical codes which must be adhered to when collaborating information. These primarily include privacy and consent laws which centre around a persons willingness to firstly provide data, but also have that data broadcasted for use across different channels of research. This can result in legal outcomes particularly if research subjects are not fully made aware of what their data is being used for. Collaborative research therefore can be seen as intrusive or having a negative impact on people’s personal or interpersonal relationships. It is therefore paramount that researchers are aware of the legal and ethical standards that they are bound to regardless of the target they are trying to achieve.

 

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Week 2: How Television transformed the average lounge room

Both of my parents grew up in the 60’s. By their own admission, their respective families were conservative to say the least. Even when television was first introduced it challenged the ideals of a Christian upbringing. For the first time in my parents lives, people outside of their regimented daily life were now influencing how they viewed and perceived the world.

Dinner time was strictly family time, and if you wanted recreation then you simply went outside or played a board game. Until talking to my parents about this topic I rarely had considered how sheltered the upbringing of previous generations had been. The introduction of modern technologies gives us unprecedented access to quite literally anything we desire. If I was to summarise how I spent my time when I was ‘bored’ at home, it would be fair to say most if not all the activities I do to cure this boredom rely on some form of modern technology that wasn’t available when my parents were growing up.

The first thing to notice in any new lounge or entertainment room is the presence of a television, and how it is predominantly the focal point of this room. The lounges, power points and windows on modern houses; support the notion that the television is inherently one of the main features of a family home.

My dad recalled to me that the lounge room in his childhood was a place that the family would sit to read books, play board games and sit in front of the fireplace during the winter. As he entered his teen years and the family decided to  introduced their own television into the house, he noticed the dynamic of the lounge room was completely changed in order to accommodate the presence of a television. Additionally he recalled the time spent in the lounge room seemingly changed from ‘some of the time’ to ‘all of the time’ which to me indicates the magnitude of television’s introduction to family homes. I’m certain that my dad’s recount of these events during the 60’s and 70’s is no different to an innumerable amount of people during the same era.

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Week 1: If you didn’t take a photo, did it really happen? The role of smartphones in time and place.

The notion of our media space to me carries a philosophical connotation which requires us to look deeper than just our various social media pages. It is the process of how it is we interact with different media, as well as what the use of that media says about us as a person and indeed our place in a ‘media society’.

Last year I was backpacking across much of Europe and the UK. Whilst a lot of the scenes I was fortunate enough to witness were mesmerising and “in the moment” experiences, I felt compelled to document much of this on my smartphone camera.  Sure, I can tell my family and friends what it’s like to witness a sunset on the Pembrokeshire Coast of Wales, or to bask in the sunshine of the Colosseum in Rome. But it seems the most pertinent question I received from such people was quite simply; “DID YOU TAKE A PHOTO.”

Some geriatrics such as my father see little point in taking photos, believing that if you “bloody well want to see something” then you “bloody well go there”. Despite this, it is interesting to note what connection media can give us to a particular space, place or moment in time. I will forever be cast back in a hypnotic state whenever I revisit photos of my travel adventures. I can vividly remember the air temperature, wind and sound of the ocean when I walked along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. These are experiences that cannot be replicated by simply staring at an image, however what it represents to me is a time of freedom and happiness.

One feature that consistently impresses me is the photo map that smartphones are able to create when you are travelling. Without even categorising photos, you are able to see a list of photos taken in different cities and countries – which adds to a sense of nostalgia when remembering such times.

Without even realising it, I was able to involve people from all over the world into my very own media space. Something as simple as uploading a photo invariably influences the day to day course of someone somewhere. Our media space says a lot about us as a person and our place in society. Whilst we may interact, network and attribute ourselves all to a different media space, fundamentally our means of acquiring a connection to this space is no different to anyone else.

 

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Research Reflection

Hey and welcome back, finally the project has been completed and BCM212 can be drawn to a close. I’d like to extend a thanks to everyone who helped me with my project and a special shout out to Susan’s Friday 12:30 class – you guys are special!

For this assessment I intended to determine the impact; be that positive or negative that co-curricular activities (sport/exercise) has on university students. This is a topic that personally interested me as I am a very active person who enjoys playing team sports and exercising regularly. I feel as though having these commitments and desire to remain physically fit can impede my ability to stay on top of university assessments. This is not always a case of simply not having enough time to devote to tasks, however not having the energy and adequate levels of concentration to effectively study can be an issue. I originally wanted to encompass all aspects of co-curricular activity, however being such a broad topic I decided to narrow it down and focus on the sport/exercise component.

The first aspect that was essential to my research was understanding the nature of physical activity in relation to university studies. By applying outcomes learned in week 1: curiosity (Bowles, 2017). This included showing interest and engaging with the topic by conducting preliminary research which would compliment primary research that would be investigated later on in the research project. In Rees’ study; Sports participation and academic performance (2010), I discovered that a key factor in academic performance can often be a lack of motivation due to exterior commitments that in turn hinder a student’s ability to perform. This guided the focus questions I ended up using for my survey, as it was important to understand the reasons behind student stress.
When considering the desired outcome of a research project it is important to be socially responsible, by considering the content within as well as the intended audience. Kate Bowles (2017) identifies the social responsibility of a researcher as a balance between curiosity and reflexivity. When applied to the research project I have conducted, I focused on ensuring the final project would be an easily readable, accessible and concise composition of analysed data attained from a relevant target audience which for me was university students. It is my social obligation to ensure the people involved in this task feel as though their input is both useful and valued by the researcher. In addition to this, the data gained was thoughtfully gathered with the permission of my survey respondents. By attaining their consent to use the data they had given me; particularly the focus group, I ensured that I had considered the respect, integrity and privacy concepts which had been studied within the course. After surveying each of my respondents I attained a signature which enabled me to use their data with informed consent and full knowledge that their input was being used for research purposes.


Throughout the research task I faced challenges which required me to be both flexible and creative with my approach to how I would overcome these obstacles. As a researcher it is essential to have these two qualities, remaining dynamic and ensuring there is more than one method of research applicable in achieving a desired goal. This came in conducting my focus group which proved to be the most difficult aspect of the assignment. I intended to have the focus group as one collective, interviewed at the same time. Such was the schedule of my focus group I had to devote time to seeing each person individually to understand how it was that sport and exercise affected their life as a university student. When considering the work of Andrade and Peluso (2005) who argue that mental health can be a barrier for learning, it was helpful to have my students in a more intimate setting – which allowed them to be more open and honest with their answers. In the future, it is certainly something to consider for group discussions, particularly if the participants are unknown to one another; meaning they may be less inclined to provide open or honest answers.
Despite not having the group together to inform a flowing conversation, I was still happy with my efforts to extract quality information which formed the backbone of my research.

In summation, I enjoyed undertaking this task as I believed it would be a similar issue for a number of other university students who have co-curricular commitments of the same nature. In the future I will ensure that my time management is of the highest priority, as it is often difficult to co-ordinate assessment tasks from different subjects whilst also applying sufficient time to one as lengthy and detailed as this research project was.


References

Andrade, L & Peluso, M, 2005. Physical activity and mental health: the association between exercise and mood, Clinics Science Journal, vol 60. no 1.

Bowles, K, 2017. BCM212 Research Practice in Media & Communication, Week 1: Curiosity, Lecture, University of Wollongong Australia.

Bowles, K, 2017. BCM212 Research Practice in Media & Communication, Week 3: Socially Responsible Design, Lecture, University of Wollongong Australia.

Rees, D & Sabia, J, 2010. Sports participation and academic performance: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Economics of Education Review, vol 29 no 5, pp.751-759.

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The effect of Co-curricular on students (sport): Research project update

After much deliberation and conversing with a variety of people, I decided to refine my topic by focussing on sport and the role it plays in the learning of students studying at university level. I have decided to focus on people aged between 18-25 to measure and gain an understanding of how sport can be used as a coping method for stress or alternatively how it can be a source of stress or distraction for students.

By researching a number of academically written sources on the effects that sport can have on mental health, it is possible to draw parallels on how this is applicable to university studies for young students. It is imperative to find a healthy balance of physical activity to retain a healthy body which in turn promotes a healthy mind. This notion has influenced the primary research I intend to gather as well as understanding the line of questioning that will be most effective. In summation, I intend to ask respondents what influence sport and physical activity (if any) has on their ability to study.

Through conducting primary research in the form of verbal interaction and noting the response from respondents, I will be able to analyse the data given in order to determine a clear response in relation to my focus question. Based on the background research I have already conducted, I am expecting the majority of the respondents to say that sport has a positive impact on their education as it provides a necessary balance for work and leisure. Despite this, my background research also indicates that there is evidence to suggest overtraining and specified commitments can be a source of unnecessary stress in the lives of university students, which ultimately hinders educational performance. It is important for me to be considerate of these factors when it comes to employing my survey questions.

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What affect does co-curricular activity have on student learning? 

When I think of High School the memories I look upon most fondly are spent playing sport and engaging in various musical events. Whilst a number of my peers found co-curricular activities to be a distraction with the perpetual stress which is synonymous with the HSC, I found it incredibly liberating to be provided with a balance of work, study and physical activity. 

With this in mind, I propose to engage with fellow students to discover not only the range of co-curricular activities they commit to, but whether or not they believe it helps or hinders their ability to be a successful student. According to ABS data there is a decline in the participation of sport for people aged 15-25 in the last decade. There are perhaps a number of reasons for this statistic, one reason could be due to educational pressures that the current generation are faced with.

 In my investigation I will delve into the difficulties graduates now have attaining work which is both suitable and profitable in industries which are increasingly competitive. I would be interested in surveying students within the cohort who may have ceased engaging in co-curricular activities such as sport in order to focus on studies for the preceding argument.  I intend to gather qualitive data in the form of extensive interviews with people within the cohort, whilst respecting the privacy and consent guidelines appilicable to the release of the information gathered. Primary research will be the most effective method of determining whether or not co-curricular activity has a positive affect on students, and the university provides a resource base in order to achieve this. 

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