Tag Archives: Recommended Reads

Getting students to think about smartphone addiction (Classroom activity)

“Cell phone addiction” is a strong term that may or may not be appropriate to describe our current obsessions with our phones. But, now that I have your attention, I think it is important to bring into the classroom a discussion of the wider, perhaps unseen and perhaps deleterious, implications of cell phone culture in today’s society.

Indeed, there has been a lot of chatter lately on the potential negative ramifications of social media use in our society. For example, I recently shared on article on Pocket and Twitter that I came across from the New York Times titled: “Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built.”

While I am not an expert in many of these areas of concern (such as mental health, physical health, what constitutes cell phone addiction, etc.), I do think these broader questions are things we cannot ignore as social media educators. We are in a unique position to bring attention to the broader relationship between social media and life in today’s society.

With that in mind, I am doing a brief 2-part series on ways I have sought to bring the topic of social media concerns into my teaching.

In the first post, we’ll talk about an activity. In a future post, I will talk about smartphone distraction in the classroom.

Okay, let’s get into it!

I want to share a quick activity I did last semester with my social media class. The activity brought forward a great deal of discussion in the class. It was great to have students sharing the challenges and concerns that they have with their phones and social media.  I was surprised and inspired by the candid nature in which students took on this topic. It was one of the best discussions I felt we had all semester.

Here’s how it worked:

First, I threw up this statement on the board and asked students if they agreed or disagreed and why:

“You’re only as good as your next post.”

Then, we discussed this statement:

“Your phone is like your life.
You either control it, or it controls you.”

Infographic: Next, as a class, we took a look at some of the reported benefits and drawbacks of social media While there are a number of sources for such info, here is one infographic that is easy to show in class.

Pre-Test: Next, I had students do a little ‘pre-test.’ The questions are below

  1. Do you think you’re addicted to your smartphone and/or social media?
  2. What are the 3 primary benefits you get out of using your smart phone?
  3. What are the 3 ways in which your smartphone has a negative effect on you?

Video Prompts: After students completed this, I gave them the following prompt that led to a discussion after the videos. Note, I will share the videos mentioned in the prompt below:

  1. What are the most compelling argument(s) or stats presented in these videos?
  2. What do you disagree with?
  3. How much control do you think you have over your smartphone use?

Cell Phone Habit (or addiction) ‘Experiment:’– But, before I showed the videos, I also set up a little ‘experiment.’ I asked the students to do the following:

  1. Pick up your phone.
    Look at the last few posts you made, and check the stats.
    Write down the emotions you feel.

I asked them to share some of these emotions. Answers include: excitement, anxiety, boredom, etc. I then told the student:

  1. Turn your smartphone off and put it in your bag.
    Log off the computer (we were in the computer lab).
    Get out a scrap paper.
  2. We’re going to watch 3 videos.
    1. Every time you find yourself wanting to check your phone/ reaching for it:
    2. Stop. Make a check on the paper. Write down the emotion you feel.

So, the students were both analyzing the videos (the video prompts above) and paying attention to their habit of wanting to reach for their phones.

After each video, we stopped and went around the room and had students share how many checks they had on their paper, and how they felt about how things were going. After all 3 videos played, we discussed the merits of each video, how the students felt, etc.

The videos were hard to choose. There are so many great Ted Talks and other videos discussing some of the pitfalls of social media. Here are 3 videos I settled on. I chose these because each touches on a different argument related to smartphones and social media.

  1. Dopamine and smart phones
  2. Cal Newport’s “Quit Social Media” TED talk.
  3. This Panda is Dancing – Time Well Spent

Note, there is an engrossing TED talk by Tristan Harris that I also recommend showing. I show part of it in my Communication & New Media course, however. So I did not want to repeat it in my social media class. Tristan Harris is mentioned in the New York Times article above, and his foundation created the “This Panda is Dancing” video.

After this, I asked students to look back at their pre-test results and their prediction of how much control they felt they had over their cell phone use. In other words, how aware are people of how much they use their phone? Were they surprised at the frequency with which they found themselves wanting to reach for their phone during the videos?

As we began wrapping up, I asked the students to jot down:

  • What is 1 thing you could do between now and next class to curb your smartphone use, as it relates to the negative effects you identified
  • Between now and next class, I want you to try and do that 1 thing.
  • How likely do you think you’ll succeed at that one thing? (Scale of 1 to 7 from Not at all – very likely)

Then, I gave the students some tools and tips to try and help them.

I encouraged students to download a free phone usage tracking app. Here are a few:

  • Moment (Apple)
  • MyAddictometer(Android)

For the following class, I asked them to provide the stats on their usage. Specifically, I was interested to know: how much time they used their phone each day, the number of times they checked their phone each day, and the top 2-3 apps they used.

Lastly, I provided some additional tips for helping take back control over cell phone usage that are provided in the Time Well Spent website Harris helps run. Note: The organization has since changed its name to HumanTech.

Conclusion

This exercise was a thought-provoking activity for my students and for me. I don’t expect that it is going to have long-term effects on cell phone use behavior by my students. But, I think it brought the issue in front of them and I am hopeful that it nudged them to be a little more mindful of just how engrossing our phones are.

Our discussion really brought out the struggle we all have between our hopes that we had a little more control and our love for the convenience and experiences our phones give us.

I left the students to wonder about whether they used their devices intentionally and were thus in control, or whether they allowed their devices to dictate the terms.

For the experiment, I went along with the students by monitoring my phone usage. I was appalled at how many times I go to use my phone. Seeing the statistic pop up when I first went to use the phone, helped me curb my usage some. I thought I only used my phone 45 minutes to an hour a day. Turns out, I was quite wrong.

Each year, I try to have a few goals and a theme. One thing I’ve been working on, is trying to be more mindful of how I spend time. I’ve never been one to waste too much time, or so I thought. I’ve learned there are many ways in which distractions are ‘scheduled into our lives,’ as Harris puts it.

I think many of us struggle with control over our time. Yet, time is all we have in life.

I was listening to a great interview on NRP with Tim Wu about a book I hope to find the time to read some day, Attention Merchants by Tim Wu. In it, citing William James, Tim said the following:

“… we must reflect that, when we reach the end of our days, our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or by default. We are at risk, without quite fully realizing it, of living lives that are less our own than we imagine.”

I think he’s  profoundly right. I printed this quote and put it above my desk to help me remain mindful of how I’m spending my attention.

– Cheers!
Matt

p.s. If you’d like some additional content related to the above blog post, check out:

above photo is a free stock photo from pexels.com

The Super Social Super Bowl? Great Reads You May Have Missed

 

Another week is almost over.  This weather has really made it challenging to get in the flow of the semester. Classes were canceled on Monday, and school didn’t open until Wednesday at noon. I want to take a quick minute to share some great reads from the week:

Super Social

The big talk this week has, of course, been about the social media and the Super Bowl. Here are a list of great articles I came across about how brands used social media for the big game:

Before

PRNewser’s Study: Doritos, M&Ms, and more score perception bumps with super bowl previews – As we know, brands now release their big super bowl ads before the game. What is the effect? This article explores.

Strategy

audi_snapchat

Fast Company had a great article looking at Audi’s plan for the big game. While many were talking about the dog commercial, what went unnoticed by many was Audi being an early adopter of using Snapchat for advertising. From the reactions I saw via Twitter, people seemed to enjoy Audi’s Snapchat photo memes.  Missed them? They were only around for 24 hours (unlike the 10 second limit for interpersonal messages). These messages were unbranded, and not related to cars. Here is one review. Personally, I applaud Audi for trying something new and different!

Winners and Losers

But the big question is often who are the “winners” and “losers” after all is said and done? Opinions of course vary, but you’ll see some trends emerge on these articles.

PR Daily’s “Social media ups and downs for Super Bowl advertisers” –

Marketing Land’s “25 Most Fantastic Social Media Updates From Brands During the Super Bowl

And The Metrics?

Here are some interesting stats from AllTwitter, including noting that game-related Tweets increased by 800,000 from last year.

And Media Bistro put together an insightful infographic of the social chatter, including a look at sentiment for different brands.

So what was my favorite Super Bowl ad? Putting everything aside, I have to say… Radio Shack’s #InWithTheNew 80s giveaway.

Really!?

Talk about the 80s in your ad (oh, nostalgia! My love for the 80s is only eclipsed by my love for the 90s), give away a table-top Pac Man arcade (I spent many of my high school years saving up for one of these only to never get a chance to buy it!) via Twitter to increase engagement, and you’ve got my attention. Doesn’t that make them the big winner? No. I’m not sure what Radio Shack’s future is… they tried to rebrand themselves to “The Shack” just a few years ago. And I honestly don’t know how long they’ll be around. But I loved the commercial… but it looks like despite my Tweet, I didn’t win that arcade game.

Maybe next year!

That’s all for now! I am hoping for warmer weather and less snow in the coming weeks. Though if my WeatherBug app is correct, I won’t get what I wished for. 😛

-Cheers!

Matt

Born to Blog author talks social media challenges, opportunities, and more!

I always learn so much from our guest speakers! This week we were very fortunate to have the author of our class text, Born to Blog, Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer) Skype with our class.


If you aren’t familiar with Mark, he is a very well-known name in the social media field, author of the popular Grow blog, a sought after consultant, and the author of Born to Blog (a book I’ve reviewed on this site and which inspired me to start this blog), and another great book I’ve read Tao of Twitter. I haven’t read his 2nd book, Return on Influence, but I hope to soon.

Here are some highlights from his presentation to this semester’s Comm 322 Social Media class.

Challenges and Opportunities in Social Media – Mark said that a major challenge today is information density. Today, we have so much information that people are reaching information paralysis. How do companies adapt and thrive in this space, with so much competing for our attention? Though not specifically about information density, the article “How the physics of social media could kill your marketing strategy” offers what I believe is a good look at the general issue.

Why do some businesses succeed on social media and others fail? Mark said it really boils down to corporate culture. Questions that come to mind after hearing Mark discuss this topic are: Does the company understand and embrace the social space? Are they agile and responsive? Do they want to adapt?

What Metrics Matter?: Since I’ve been seeking to teach my students basics of Google Analytics, the importance of, and how to track metrics, I ask guest bloggers what metrics matter to them. When asked what the key metrics he tracks are, Mark said there was one that matters: returning visitors. Are they coming back? If people come back, eventually they’ll bring their friends. Traffic doesn’t create business benefits. Returning visitors do.

We’re All Students – the media landscape shifts so rapidly, it is difficult to be an expert. We all are students. And we should strive to keep learning and adapting. As a professor, I loved hearing this reminder. I am always looking to learn, change, grow, and adapt and it is great to hear someone with as much experience as Mark talking about the importance of being a lifelong learner!

Tips and Advice for Students

The Power of Blogging for Students – Mark echoed another class guest, Nate Bagley, when he encouraged students to blog, build an audience, and create meaningful content. He said that it was a valuable tool to show potential employers that you can build and sustain an audience. He said that often times he finds students or grad students are not blogging, and was glad to see students in our class were blogging as a semester long project. I was, of course, very happy to hear this. 🙂 So students, if you’re reading this, keep blogging!

Know Stats – Mark said education in stats is important. Increasingly, data and numbers are driving online business. You don’t have to be an expert, but you need to be able to ask questions and the ability to think critically, and choose the statistical analysis needed to answer those questions. While many students were probably grumpy to hear this, I agree completely. Stats and research methods are more important than ever.

It is not often that students get to speak directly with the author of a class text, and it meant a lot to me for students to get this wonderful opportunity. So thank you so much to Mark for being so generous with his time and knowledge!

-Cheers!

Matt

Web Roundup: Social Media Education Infographic; Zimmerman juror book deal sabotaged; Cool Professors; More!

This week flew by! Today’s Web Roundup contains a variety of articles.

 Search:

This week’s subject has been search, as on Monday I published a post on Snickers use of search in a very creative campaign – if you haven’t seen it, check it out!  In an article “Why search is much bigger than you can measure,” Chris Penn talks about some of the ways in which web traffic from search is being masked, preventing us from realizing the true volume of people who are being referred to our site from search.

Social Media and Education:

Recently, Karen Freberg (@kfreberg) Tweeted a great article with Infographics from MediaBistro on social media and education. Of course I agree with the article that: “Social media has revolutionised many industries, but it’s perhaps its impact on the classroom, and the education system as a whole, that is the most striking.” There is a lot of interesting data here. A few things that stuck out to me:

59% of students who use social networks talk about education topics online

50% of those who talk about education online talk specifically about schoolwork.

Also, there is a great infographic exploring just some of the benefits of using social media in school for teachers, students, and parents. There is also another infographic showing the uses of a variety of social media tools to enhance the classroom.

Current Events and Social Media

Twitter user swiftly sabotages Zimmerman juror’s book deal on Yahoo news – With the outpouring of emotion and opinion regarding the verdict in the George Zimmerman case, one person turned to Twitter in an attempt to block a juror in the case from getting the book deal. She succeeded. Here again we see the power of social media to rally support for/against an event. I’m not so sure such the effort could have succeeded in the pre-social media age, or at least so quickly (The article claims she succeeded in 6 hours!) The decision by the Martin Literary Agency to seek to publish a book on the controversial trial has certainly left many people shaking their head. The agency was forced to respond to social pressure and did so quickly, releasing a statement. What do you think about how the Martin Literary Agency responded to this situation?

Friday Fun!

Lastly, just for fun:

I’ve seen a lot of creative professors over the years. This photo album of “18 clues that your professor is cooler than you” shows just how witty professors can be!

If you’re an old school Internet nerd like me, you’ll appreciate this list of “Things that will make you miss the old days of the Internet” from the masters of the web list, BuzzFeed Rewind. Take a walk down memory lane with classic screen savers, AOL, the comforting sounds of dialup, and much more!

Dr. K Roundup

In personal news, my wife Kelin and I will be getting our very first puppy later this month, a bergamasco! My wife grew up with dogs but this is all new to me! I’ve been reading a lot of Cesar Millan books! I’m considering joining Instagram or another photo-sharing social site to share photos of our new dog experience. My Instagram knowledge is rather limited, so this may be a fun way to get up to date on this burgeoning social network. If you’ve got any thoughts on what the best photo apps are, or have any tips and tools, I’d love your input.

Hope to see you at #AEJMC next week! Have a great weekend.

Cheers!
-Matt

photo: CC opensourceway.

Web Roundup: Content Marketing: Does it matter?, Big Data and Politics (7/12/13)

coffee

Happy Friday! Here are some great articles from around the web that caught my attention this week.

For the politics and social media lovers:

  • Election 2016: How Big Data + Social Data Will Determine the Next President – A must read for an interesting perspective on the future of social data and micro-targeting! I find big data and predictive analytics both fascinating and scary. It seems things have shifted. It used to be campaigns took their cues from business tactics. With the costs of presidential campaigns skyrocketing, it seems the tables have turned. This article discusses the innovations of 2008 and 2012 and what they may mean for the 2016 election.

But the big theme this week is something I’ve talked a lot about on this blog content marketing:

  • Gary Schirr asks “Is content marketing the NEW new thing?” with some thought-provoking Google trend graphs showing the exponential growth in search volume for “content marketing” versus other popular marketing trends. As the data shows, there is no question – content marketing is as popular a term as ever.
  • Mark Schaefer proclaims “Why Content Marketing is a ‘do-over’ for social media – arguing that content marketing offers a new and exciting opportunity for online marketing in response to what Mark sees as a failure of social media marketing. The upside, according to Mark, is that content marketing represents a maturation of the field. To me, the failure is the ‘out-the-box’ approach to social media, or as Mark describes it: checking it off the list. Still, it is interesting to hear someone call social media marketing a failure. I’d say the failure sounds more like a failure of social media marketers.
  • And Robert Wynne offers the “real story” of content marketing – where he examines whether content marketing is something new or a buzzword for something that’s been with us for a long time.

Have a great weekend!

– Cheers, Matt