Mar 19

The Value of Education

Based on the commentary notes in lesson 10 (2019) the education system is usually the first form of social interaction that takes place outside of a child’s home for many children. The effects of the exposures from it can be vital for their future successes. The education system is where a great deal of human development occurs and is shaped (Lesson 10: Education, 2019). There are several factors we should consider when it comes to student performance.

According to Ajzen (1991), the theory of planned behavior looks at the individual’s attitude, their perceived subjective norms and their perceived behavioral control. The attitude towards the behavior can be positive or negative. It is the belief that individuals hold about completing the work or tasks. Subjective norms are what an individual believes to be true based on their parent’s expectations such as working hard earns success. Along with both of those factors we should also consider the child’s behavioral control, this is the assessment of how difficult or easy school appears to be for the child (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).

According to a study conducted by Sideridis and Padeliadu (2001), it was found that high and poor performing readers differed drastically regarding the theory of planned behavior. It appeared as if the low-level readers held less value with being a good student and had weaker subjective norms than the higher-level reading students did. In fact, the higher-level readers worked harder and showed a perceived control in their ability to achieve good grades from their hard work. These findings were interesting because it means that if educators can increase student’s beliefs about their abilities and their control they have over their academic successes, students will want to work harder to achieve higher successes/grades (Schneider et al, 2012).

Similarly, a student’s academic self-concept has been found to affect motivation and performance at school as well. Of course, academic self-concepts differ based on the student’s demographics (age, race, gender and ethnicity). Guay and colleagues (2003) found that as the students grow older their academic self-concepts became more stabilized overtime. This shows how important it is for educators and parents to help elementary and high school students develop a positive academic self-concept, and an academic self-concept is especially important for minority students (Schneider et al, 2012).

As you can see based on the information above, parents and school environments appear to be some of the most vital contributing factors towards positive social interactions and academic success for students. Having a positive academic attitude towards education, having an established positive perceived set of norms and having a perceived behavioral control over their successes can be a crucial step in building students’ successes now and in their future. Education and the factors that contribute towards academic success can start in the home with the parents/caregivers and build throughout development within the school system (Schneider et al, 2012). Without applied social psychology, these important factors may not have been assessed and discovered. It is important that caregivers and parents realize that education and educational values start in the home environment. It is time for parents and educators to work together and model and foster positive behaviors for our students and young children, as they are our future.


Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles; London; New Dehli; Singapore; Washington DC; Melbourne: SAGE.

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 424 Lesson 10: Education Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1973019/modules/items/25635725

Mar 19

The Learning Hindrances of Stress and Trauma

Bandura’s social learning theory states that people will learn behaviors in social settings from watching others, internalizing what they see and basing their own behavior on that interpretation (Social Learning, n.d.).  In order to successfully learn what one is exposed to there must be four components present.  People must be able to pay attention, retain the information, have the physical capacity to use information (motor reproduction) and have motivation and opportunity.  Without these components learning, including processing and imitating, does not occur.  As children watch someone model behavior, they internalize the precepts behind it and recreate the behavior in their own ways, moving beyond just imitating exactly.  Stress and trauma create a neurological state in which learning is compromised.  Increased cortisol inhibits brain function and the stress of having basic needs unfulfilled prevents students from paying attention.

Learning is a complex process that encompasses the whole being.  Social learning theory is described as a combination between Skinner’s behaviorism, in which children are simply motivated by reward and punishment, and cognitive learning theories, in which attention, motivation and memory play a part (Social Learning, n.d.).  If learning were as simple for children as it was for Pavlov’s dogs, we could easily train and predict behavior consistently.  But children have a lot going on cognitively.  Are they motivated to learn? Have they learned there is a benefit to what they are being taught?  Are they able to actually reproduce what they see?  Are they able to retain or remember methods and processes?  Or is there some physical or memory impairment?  Attention is a critical aspect of learning.  We can be exposed to the best teaching but if we are not paying attention, nothing will be retained.  What is underneath attention?  One key factor is whether our basic needs have been met.  For a student who is extremely tired or has to use the bathroom urgently, learning is not high on the list of necessary functions.  The body first requires basic needs to be taken care of.

A friend told me this story of his time from working in an elementary school.  He was called in to a classroom to deal with a child who had just ransacked the room, terrorized kids, violently upset tables and chairs and was now hiding under the teacher’s desk.  My friend Mark used skills he had learned through studying applied behavior analysis.  With no one else in the room, he quietly sat down near the student and calmly waited, saying nothing for minutes on end.  The dysregulated angry child’s heavy breathing slowly normalized as he realized no one was going to yell at him or pull him out of his safe place under the desk.  My counselor once told me in reference to my own out of control adopted children, “a dysregulated child regulates in the presence of a regulated adult.”  That calmness on the part of the adult creates safety.  After fifteen minutes, the child under the desk said in a small voice, “Are you mad at me?”  Mark answered, “Why would I be mad at you?”  The child answered, “Because of the room.”  Mark looked around and said nonchalantly, “Oh, doesn’t look too bad to me.  Are you hungry?”  The child timidly came out and said yes.  He desperately wanted to trust Mark but didn’t know if he could.  Would this big adult turn on him and punish him harshly now?  Mark asked if he wanted to get something to eat in the cafeteria and the boy nodded.  Outside the classroom, Mark frantically but subtly motioned to the waiting principal, psychologist and parents to get out of there, as he gently took the boy by the hand.  He didn’t need punitive treatment right now; he needed care and understanding.  Watching the boy wolf down his lunch, Mark asked him when he’d last eaten.  The reply was that he’d eaten something yesterday but no breakfast for three days.  Slowly the boy talked about his home life.  His mother had been screaming at him just before dropping him off at school.  “Tell me about the classroom,” Mark said now.  “One of the boys was making fun of my mother,” the boy said, “that made me angry.”  Mark started talking about how the other kids might have felt during the rampage and how the teacher now had a mess to clean up.  The student was able to see that his behavior had hurt others and willingly made amends.  He had first been shown care and love and his basic needs had been met; then he was able to think logically.

Aside from the violence and the risk to others, this child had been in no place to learn.  He did not have the basic needs of food and safety met and yet he was expected to sit still and listen, process information, and understand how to function well in a classroom full of other noisy, disruptive children.  An adult would have had the ability to speak up and say they needed to eat first or they needed a quiet place, but this child was just forced to comply without thought for what he needed until he made it known all too aggressively that something was awry.

There are plenty of examples of children who are unable to learn well when their attention is elsewhere or they feel stressed.  Jane Elliott’s children had a harder time focusing when they were being discriminated against because they were constantly worried about their lower class status, what the other kids thought, and how they might be treated (A Class Divided, 1985).  My own adopted daughter has a hard time focusing in class and her therapist has theorized that her deficit in attention is likely due to the trauma she’s experienced.  Much like Jane Elliott’s kids, thoughts race through her mind of stressful events she’s encountered, hypervigilance to keep herself safe and feelings of low self-esteem related to being adopted and treated roughly.

One study found that trauma results in four key themes of distress that relate to learning.  Anxiety, fear, difficulty with time management, and the challenging level of material present are factors that significantly add to the stress a traumatized student feels in a learning environment (Washington, 2018).  Another study showed that compared to normal children, a high percentage of traumatized children have brain abnormalities on the left side of the brain, as shown by electroencephalography (Washington, 2018).  This side of the brain is primarily responsible for functions like reasoning, numbers skills, language processing and logic, all necessary aspects of typical school-based learning.  Contrarily the creative functions of the right brain such as artistic ability, imagination and intuition are often unhindered in traumatized children.  Executive functioning is impaired in the network of the brain encompassing the prefrontal cortex, and so memory, planning and processing are all affected.  Learning and understanding are believed to originate in the hippocampus and this structure too has been shown to be underdeveloped in traumatized children (Washington, 2018).  Neuronal activity in the hippocampus shows activation during the learning state which is repeated during sleep when memories are consolidated (Sapolsky, 2004).  In children who live in perpetual fear and trauma, even this consolidation of patterns is compromised since sleep is often disrupted by nightmares or screaming.  Trauma creates increased levels of cortisol which hinders the development of many of these brain regions, leaving children with compromised learning ability.  At the same time, increased cortisol increases the functioning of the amygdala leading to an overly functioning fight or flight system, always alert and ready to react to any threat (Cacciaglia, Nees, Grimm, Ridder, Pohlack, Diener, Liebscher & Flor, 2017).

These neurological differences in traumatized children create a situation where paying attention to modeling stimuli is difficult at best, impossible at worst.  Understanding stress and trauma and how they relate to attention and learning is crucial to being able to provide a safe educational environment where children can relax and focus.


A Class Divided.  (1985).  Frontline.  Retrieved on Mar. 19, 2019 from: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/class-divided/.

Cacciaglia, R., Nees, F., Grimm, O., Ridder, S., Pohlack, S., Diener, S., Liebscher, C. & Flor, H. (2017). Trauma exposure relates to heightened stress, altered amygdala morphology and deficient extinction learning: Implications for psychopathology. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 76, 19-28.

Sapolsky, R.  (2004).  Why zebras don’t get ulcers.  New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura).  (n.d.).  Learning Theories.  Retrieved on March 21, 2019 from: https://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html.

Washington, D. (2018). Exploring the learning experience of higher education students in a midwestern university who suffered childhood trauma (Doctoral dissertation)Retrieved from ProQuest Information & Learning. 

Mar 19

Gender-Inclusive Dorms

When you first go away to college, your living situation is important. Many colleges create extensive questionnaires for accepted students in order to match them with the best, most compatible roommate(s). As colleges become more impacted, this becomes even more important as many dorm rooms that used to be doubles are now triples. Getting along with your roommate is important as it can have a huge effect on your success in adjusting to college life. There are even whole books devoted to what to expect the first time you have a roommate and how to get along with them. One aspect of housing that has more recently come into play is gender inclusive housing. With the LGBTQ+ movement gaining power, it makes sense that colleges around the United States are being pushed to be inclusive, especially in their housing options.

In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Education and Justice invoked Title IX, the law which prohibits gender discrimination at schools who receive federal funding, to make it clear to colleges that students have the right to live in housing that reflects their gender identity (Malone, 2016). Colleges have been moving in this direction for some time, but with this announcement that federal funds could be withheld from schools who discriminated against individuals due to their gender identity, schools started moving up plans for gender inclusive housing on their campuses (Malone, 2016).

There were a handful of schools already implementing gender-inclusive housing, even before this announcement was made about the legal ramifications of not having housing equality on campus (Malone, 2016). Many of these campuses were in the Northeast and on the West Coast. Universities in the South and religiously affiliated schools have been slower to adopt these policies, if they are adopting them at all (Malone, 2016).

One reason that this movement for gender-inclusive housing has been less controversial than other social movements is that the younger population found on college campuses are typically more comfortable with the issue of gender identity (Malone, 2016). However, despite this higher level of comfort with the issue, not that many students are taking advantage of the gender-inclusive housing being offered (Malone, 2016). According to Georgia Tech, only 42 out of 4,100 students on their Atlanta Campus sought out gender-inclusive housing (Malone, 2016).

Gender-inclusive housing is a way for universities to support and show their acceptance of individuals belonging to a minority community. Gender-inclusive housing is also the best way to integrate this community into the college campus while ensuring their safety. One of the alternative suggestions was to build separate LGBTQ+ housing on campuses, but that would just create segregation of the LGBTQ+ community from the rest of the college campus (Rosaria, 2018). Gender-inclusive housing has the same benefits as separate housing, but without the negative effects (Rosario, 2018). It creates a safe environment for LGBTQ+ youth while promoting the idea of inclusion on campus (Rosario, 2018). The LGBTQ+ community should not have to be separated from the larger community to ensure their safety, they should be accepted for who they are, and gender-inclusive housing does this (Rosaria, 2018).



Malone, S. (2016, June 10). College Dorms a New Front in U.S. Battle Over Transgender Rights. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lgbt-education-idUSKCN0YW15P

Rosario, I. (2018, May 21). Student Housing Inclusion. Retrieved from https://www.multihousingnews.com/post/student-housing-inclusion/

Mar 19

Priming pros-social behaviors

Imagine that you are working at the Division of Psychology at the University of Newcastle in England. You share a coffee room with your fellow coworkers. Coffee, tea and milk are provided, but you must pay your consumption using an honesty box. Would you be more likely to pay your drink if an image of eyes is staring at you from above the price list?  I guess your response is no. You will argue that you are an honest person and nothing will impact your behavior. Certainly not a fake glance! Bateson, nettle and Roberts (2006) conducted this study. They examined the effect of an image of a pair of eyes on contributions to an honesty box used to collect money for drinks in a university coffee room. People paid nearly three times as much for their drinks when eyes were displayed rather than an image of flowers.

In a study conducted by Josephson (1987) the effect of television violence on boys’ aggression was investigated. Participants in the study, a group of young boys,watched violent or nonviolent TV, and half the groups were later exposed to a cue associated with the violent TV program. They were frustrated either before or after TV viewing. Aggression was measured by naturalistic observation during a game of floor hockey. Prior to the study teachers rated the boys’ aggressiveness. Groups containing more characteristically high-aggressive boys showed higher aggression following violent TV plus the cue than following violent TV alone, which in turn produced more aggression than did the nonviolent TV condition.

Thesetwo studies illustrated two very different types of priming. Priming refers to the effect of a preceding stimulus or event on how we react to a subsequent stimulus. Priming procedures were first used in cognitive psychology to explore the structure and representation of information within network models of memory. Network models of memory assume that information is stored in memory in the form of nodes, and that each node represents a concept.  Furthermore, these nodes are connected to related nodes in memory by associative pathways. An additional assumption of network models of memory is that each node has an activation threshold. The node fires if the levels of activation exceed its threshold. When a node fires, it can influence the activation levels of other related nodes. A final assumption of network models of memory is that the activation level of a node will go away over time, making it a short time effect. Research by cognitive and social psychologist has demonstrated that a prime’s effect on a target behavior or thought is related to the intensity of the prime (Gruman, Schneider, &Coutts, 2012).

Cues in our environment are priming our behaviors. This finding can have a practical interest for those designing honesty based system, or wishing to maximize cooperative behaviors. We can also prime our own behavior. Stop reading, and take a look around you. What kind of behaviors is your surrounding priming?

Bateson, M., Nettle, D., & Roberts, G. (2006). Cues of being watched enhance cooperation in a real-world setting. Biology Letters, 2(3), 412-414. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0509

Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. (2012). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles ; London ; New Dehli ; Singapore ; Washington DC ; Melbourne: SAGE.

Josephson, W. L. (1987). Television violence and childrens aggression: Testing the priming, social script, and disinhibition predictions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(5), 882-890. doi:10.1037//0022-3514.53.5.882

Mar 19

Cultural Stereotyping

Cultural Stereotyping

It’s impossible to deny that each country in the world is made up of a groups of people who tend to be defined by a certain culture. While different countries can include a mixture of cultures, especially today, we normally have a general idea of the key factors of cultures. If you stop and think about it, you could probably list a few things about the cultures of certain countries even though you have not necessarily been there to see it first hand! A list you might come up with could look something like this:

German culture: Very strict and punctual people. Enjoy drinking beer. Somewhat of a cold culture in the sense that the people are not extremely friendly. Very strong accent when speaking English.

Spanish culture: Lazy people who like to take naps and drink beer. Bull fighting and dancing is super common.

Russian culture: Drink a lot of vodka. Not the nicest people. Very cold country calls for cold culture.

Australian culture: Loads of expressions having to do with animals. They hang out with kangaroos and do a lot of water sports. Crazy individuals.

British culture: Very posh and formal. They have tea time every day. Always rainy, never sunny and they are very white.

Italian culture: They talk with their hands and eat a lot of pizza and pasta. The Italian mafia.

French culture: French boys are the most romantic. French woman are extremely delicate and formal. The language sounds beautiful. The people are a little stuck-up.

American culture: They eat a lot of fast food and love hamburgers. They think they are the best and are very patriotic.

I’m sure that, even if you don’t necessarily think of the exact things that are on this list, that your general thoughts on these cultures are similar. This is because a lot of our knowledge of these cultures comes from movies, music and social networks that we are all connected to. It is not until we go to the country and experience the culture first hand that we can see how it is in reality. The issue is that, at that point, we already have an idea in our head of how the culture is and instead of walking in with an open mind and allowing a new image to form, we try to fit our experiences into the cultural box we have already created in our mind.

All the factors we consider when thinking of cultures are not just ways of defining a culture, they are stereotypes and we are creating and using them all the time without realizing it. It is important to realize that these stereotypes do have to come from somewhere, that is to say that there is absolutely some truth in them, but normally they are extremely exaggerated. While in many situations these types of stereotypes can be harmless, it is important to be careful when using them so that they do not get out of hand.  


Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2019, from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1973019/modules/items/25635726


Mar 19

Social Media and What We Know

Social media is a relatively more recent phenomena and upon further research, there appears to be many pros and cons to the use of such programs. Some of the more popular social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. One pro of social media is that it connects people who might have a harder time connecting; whether that be due to physical proximity or something more daunting such as social anxiety. People, and more specifically teens, are “hardwired for socialization, and social media makes socializing easy and immediate. Teens who struggle with social skills, social anxiety, or who don’t have easy access to face-to-face socializing with other teens might benefit from connecting with other teens through social media” (Hurley, 2019). This can in turn reduce feelings of loneliness and help them to build stronger kinships with friends online so that when they come across them offline they feel more comfortable in engaging with said friend.


Use of such platforms can have positive effects and be used to connect and create friendships with others, but it can also be a way to fight negativity and hate by providing an avenue to confront cyberbullying, trolls, and toxic comparisons (Hurley, 2019). For clarification purposes, trolls are persons whose goal is to attack other people strictly for the sake of making them feel bad about themselves.


In some cases, it is hard to decipher if social media is to blame for proposed negative side effects. Studies have shown that “Facebook and self-esteem may be related in terms of Facebook usage, causing lower self-esteem, but this may also mean that people with low self-esteem use Facebook more often. In other words, it is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to conclude which variable is the cause and which is the effect” (Pantic, 2014). This can complicate the process of determining whether social media is the “cause” or rather the “facilitator” in demonstrating a person’s already present struggle with their mental health or behavioral state. However, data can be said to link a person’s frequency of viewing his or her profile, including one’s own pictures, biographical data, relationship status, friend count, etc. could “lead to either a short-term or a long-term reduction in self-esteem” (Pantic, 2014). This more clearly demonstrates that at the very least, a correlation is present.

Another positive to the modern age of socialization is the ability for the younger generations to “build on social communication and friendships taking place at school or during sports and other activities and extend it to the online world. They are not necessarily meeting new people so much as enriching their currently existing friendships. Because of this, barring teens from social media use could potentially deprive them of valuable learning experiences and limits their social lives” (Mir & Novas, 2018). These platforms are at this point a staple in American society and restricting access to these forums can have damaging effects on a person’s capacity to participate with the larger collective; causing possible feelings of social seclusion and dejection. “A study from Nottingham Trent University revealed typical addictive behavior including neglect of personal life, escapism, and mood-modifying experiences appeared to be present in some people who used social media networks excessively” (Knudson, 2017).


Posting in social media forums has been reported to generate feelings of satisfaction with one’s self, which can subsequently become habitual, and consequently become time consuming. “An individual may spend increasing amounts of time online to generate the same pleasurable effect as before, taking over the majority of their attention and time” (Knudson, 2017). This takes time away from other, perhaps more healthy activities that an individual could be participating in.


“Social media has also been found to be associated with self-image. A study found that greater Instagram use was associated with greater self-objection and concern about body image” (Mir & Novas, 2018). This is one of the more heated topics as body dysmorphia has recently hit mainstream awareness. Most people (especially women) who are active in social media would quickly be able to confirm that they are regularly inundated with posts regarding what “beautiful” women look like. These societal pressures can play an active role in distorting self-perception and formation of toxic behaviors related to poor self-esteem; including but not limited to development of eating disorders.


It would appear that there is much more research to be done surrounding the effects of social media involvement; and it looks to be clear that a main factor that demands much of the focus would be activity participation and time spent on the sites in question.



Hurley, K. (2019, March 7). Social Media and Teens: How Does Social Media Affect Mental Health? Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.psycom.net/social-media-teen-mental-health


Pantic, I. (2014, October 01). Online social networking and mental health. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183915/


Mir, E., & Novas, C. (2018, October 17). Social Media and Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Mental Health. Retrieved March 17, 2019, from http://www.center4research.org/social-media-affects-mental-health/


Knudson, L. (2017, September 07). How Social Media Addiction Affects Your Health and Well-Being? Retrieved March 17, 2019, from https://www.psychreg.org/social-media-addiction-health-wellbeing/










Mar 19

Three sources of Media Monitoring

Nowadays, when you are in public you may constantly see teenagers, college students, and adolescents on their phones more than anything. What exactly are they on? What is occupying their time? Social media and dating apps seems to be the current social craze. Researchers found that about 80 percent of social media posts are self-focused, while around 30 to 40 percent of one’s speech is comprised of self-disclosing information about oneself to others (Mahamid & Berte, 2019).

Authors found that if someone is responding or talking about one’s own opinions, it promotes an increase in neural activity (Mahamid & Berte, 2019). Although social media is only growing, there truly is not a lot of professional assistance on how to correctly use it in a healthy or positive manner (Mahamid & Berte, 2019). Parents should monitor and time their children’s screen time on their devices because many times over the parents don’t know what websites or social media apps their children are even on. A nonprofit resource that was founded in 2003 for parents to read about reviews, different games, age-appropriate apps, books, movies, and television shows for their kids is called Common Sense Media. A link to this website can be found here: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

The founder of Common Sense is named Jim Steyer, who is also an author of the book titled The other parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on our Children. The main message of that book to parents is that the media, television, and movies all have detrimental effects on adolescents. What’s interesting is that Jim recommended in the book that parents should put their children on health media diets, but this book was published back in 2003, before Facebook or any of the big social medias were launched except for Myspace. Jim’s main goal of Common Sense is to empower parents with the proper resources and information they need about technology and the media in order for them to advocate for their children (Our Impact, n.d.). Only three years after the launch of Common Sense, it instantly became the “largest independent source for media and technology reviews” back in 2006 (Our Impact, n.d.).There are many links on the Common Sense site, this link contains a parent blog https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog and there even is a parent concerns webpage found here https://www.commonsensemedia.org/parent-concerns as a source for adults to ask questions about anything related to the media or internet as a way of helping others to understand more through this digital age (Our Mission, n.d.). A few examples of some past-asked questions on the parent concerns webpage include asking about cyberbullying, questions on Youtube monitoring, and how much screen time is the right amount for their child.

The media is making more and more parental challenges. MySpace started back in 2003, where Youtube launched in 2005, Twitter started in 2006, and even Facebook changed its law into allowing 13 year olds to join in 2006 (Our Impact, n.d.). There is a drastic increase of adolescent’s time spent on their mobile devices because of these social media platforms. A study that tested the frequency of social media usage among 13 to 17 year olds found that 27% of teens are checking their social media hourly, while only 19% of teens do not use social media at all (Knutson, 2018). More statistics from this study can be seen in Figure 1 below.

Image source: https://d1e2bohyu2u2w9.cloudfront.net/education/sites/default/files/tlr-blog/frequency.png


Adolescents see more positive effects than negative effects regarding social media (Knutson, 2018). Researchers have found some common characteristics of addicted social media users such as poor impulse control, low self-esteem, depression, and feelings of social isolation (Mahamid & Berte, 2019). However, about 57% of teens do believe that social media distracts them from other tasks such as homework. This may be why texting is now considered the most favorable means of communication amongst teens even more than communicating in person (Knutson, 2018). A 2012 vs 2018 study compared the ways teens preferred way of communication, which found that the least preferred way is through video chatting at 10%. Additional information about the study can be found in the diagram below.

Image source: https://d1e2bohyu2u2w9.cloudfront.net/education/sites/default/files/tlr-blog/face-to-face-title.png

More research is being conducted to see what the correct amount of screen time is for adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics created the “Family Media Use Plan tool” that can be used for children of the ages of 18-24 months, 2-5 years, 6-12 years, and 13 to 18 year olds. The “Family Media Use Plan tool” creates a personalized media plan for your family. First you enter the name of your family, and your children’s names, and ages using the drop down menu. After that you are prompted to a page that allows the parent to decide what the device curfews are, what rooms the devices will charge in, what rooms are screen-free zones, what hours are screen free times such as before bedtime, while crossing the street, or during dinnertime, when it is appropriate to have recreational screen time, digital safety rules, and so much more. The tool allows you to selected predetermined options or you have the ability to type in your own responses to any of the categories. After the parent selects the appropriate categories and checks off the categories, the site will generate a personalized family media plan based off the results.If you want to create your own family media plan, please do so here.

Something else was created called the Media Time Calculator, which allows the parent to add their children’s media use into a personalized scale that tells you how much time is used for screen time, for chores, for reading, homework, family time, for sleep, and more. This calculator can help the child to see truly how much of their day is taken by their media use. To access the Media Time Calculator, feel free to find it here. There are also more media use recommendations provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which involve setting the appropriate screen time of high quality programs for young children who are of ages two to five to only one hour a day (American, 2016). But for children who are a bit older than the age of six, their media screen time should be strictly limited in order to make sure media use does not deter their children’s physical activity or sleep schedule (American, 2016). The AAP recommends on having different media-free times throughout the day, as well as media-free locations in your house (American, 2016). The discussion of cutting out excess periods of the media from your daily life is considered a “media diet”. There are even sites out there who provide media diet pyramids as a way to help people to see the main problem of their daily media consumption. The underlying question here is, how will you consume your media and not let it consume your life?


American Academy of Pediatrics announces new recommendations for children’s media use. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx

Knutson, J. (2018, September 10). What new research on teens and social media means for teachers. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/what-new-research-on-teens-and-social-media-means-for-teachers

Mahamid, F. A., & Berte, D. Z. (2019). Social media addiction in geopolitically at-risk youth. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17(1), 102-111. doi:10.1007/s11469-017-9870-8

Our Impact. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/our-impact/

Our Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/our-mission

Mar 19

Facebook Causing Depression?

In today’s world, social media is everywhere. No matter where we go, we observe people browsing or posting to some form of it, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or others. People everywhere share information and photos about their personal relationships, their careers, their current locations, and more. This sharing and observation of information has become a fascination, as the use of social media has drastically increased from 7% of the American adult population in 2005 to 65% in 2015 (Perrin, 2015). With how popular it’s become, it raises the question of whether or not it’s also potentially harmful.

I have read briefly about the possibility of a connection between social media use, particularly Facebook, and its connection to depression and mood. Yuen et al. (2018) attempted to unravel this mystery by examining how the moods of “emerging adults”, specifically undergraduate students at a private university, were impacted by their use of Facebook (Yuen et al., 2018). The researchers chose to focus on undergraduate students as it is known that 90% of these emerging adults use social media, thus making them a reliable sample (Perrin, 2015). Upon beginning the study, the researchers hypothesized that Facebook use would be associated with a lower mood.

The researchers initially surveyed the participants to uncover their pre-experiment moods before using Facebook. They then implemented Facebook usage into the study by allowing  one group of participants to engage in various Facebook activities for a period of 20 minutes, while another group engaged in general, non-social media related Internet usage for the same period of time (Yuen et al., 2018).  Immediately afterwards, the researchers administered another mood-based survey in order to obtain the participants’ moods after using Facebook and the Internet. The pre- and post-experiment mood evaluations were then compared in order to determine the impact of Facebook and the Internet upon participants’ moods. The results showed that Facebook use led to a significantly lower mood than did browsing the internet, supporting their hypothesis. The authors gathered that, with how heavily Facebook is used, especially by emerging adults, continued negative impact on mood over time could be detrimental to psychological well-being (Yuen et al., 2018).

This was eye-opening for me because I know that the majority of my friends (emerging adult age) are incredibly involved in social media. I have witnessed first hand the effects that certain posts or information sent or received through social media sites has had on friends and it is overwhelming at times. I have witnessed amongst my friends break ups, fights, losses of friends, losses of jobs, the onset of therapy, onset of depression and/or anxiety and more all related to social media usage. As the aforementioned research supports, I find it extremely important to continue research into the impact of social media usage on our mental health and well-being. Is this connection to lower moods after Facebook usage a sign that Facebook is, over time, leading to depression? If so, the more we discover pertaining to the connection, the better we will be able to prevent such effects from being as detrimental.


Perrin, A. (2015). Social networking usage: 2005– 2015. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/08/social-networking-usage-2005-2015/

Yuen, E. K., Koterba, E. A., Stasio, M. J., Patrick, R. B., Gangi, C., Ash, P., Barakat, K., Greene, V., Hamilton, W., & Mansour, B. (2018, January 18). The Effects of Facebook on Mood in Emerging Adults. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000178

Mar 19



“Hey baby. What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Wya?”


“It means where you at”.

The above dialogue is a typical conversation I have with my 14-year-old son. Our conversations mostly consist of him texting me in text slang and me trying to decipher it and feeling old. I feel like limiting TV screen time is a thing of the past since an average teen has a smart one and spends more time socializing through social media or instant messaging. When I hear parents bragging about their strict parenting styles and not letting their kids have smart phones, I try to admire it, but in reality, I’m rolling my eyes. I will lie if I said I’m constantly monitoring my son’s phone usage. I mean, between juggling a full-time job, going to school and writing blog posts, the easiest choice is to let him entertain himself in his room and leave me alone for a moment.

Most parents I know feel more at peace that their adolescent kids have cell phones since they can be in contact throughout the day. Adolescents kids gain more freedom in their middle/high school years and spend more time away from parents. Ever since my son started walking home from school, I made sure he has a cell phone with him at all times. Unfortunately, the cell phone is not being used just for communication. Although parents like the idea of being in contact with their kids, they also raise concerns of negative consequences of cell phone use. Parents and school staff have voiced their concerns about cyberbullying and other conflicts connected to text messaging and social media (Tulane, Vaterlaus, Beckert, 2014).

It’s been reported that parents prefer to oversee their kids’ cell phone use rather than having school administrators or teachers have that control. However, studies show that cell phone use is more under control with adolescents who attend schools with strict cell phone rules. With schools enforcing strict cell phone rules, many teachers acknowledge the advantages of smart phones in classrooms as they can be used for research and class projects. Teaching students the resourcefulness of smartphones as opposed to their disruptive use, teachers play catch-22 trying to advocate for balanced use of cell phones (Tulane, et al., 2014).

Going back to the beginning of this post where I made myself sound like a terrible mom, yes, parents are not perfect, and yes, we do educate our kids to be responsible cell phone users. Before becoming parents, we have this ideal parent in our heads that we try to look up to, but then reality comes, and we’re not that strong anymore. I have always been outspoken about teaching and educating children as young as possible. We warn them about drugs and unsafe sex, we teach them to see the difference between right and wrong, we educate them to be responsible for their actions. Cell phones are just another addition to the list of things we want to make them aware of. And even if they spend a little more time on their smart phones while mom is getting things done, then that’s just the reality we have to live with, at least for the time being.


Tulane, S., Vaterlaus, J.M., Beckert, T.E. (2014). An A in their social lives, but an F in school: Adolescent perceptions of texting in school. Sage Journals, 49.

Mar 19

Information Overload

It’s everywhere!  The bells and whistles on your phone sending you notifications.  The endless signs, flashing billboards, politicians up for election.  Hey!  It’s tax season, I just waved at someone dressed up as the Statue of Liberty trying to tug at my patriotic heart strings to hand over my personal information so this company can do my taxes.  You can’t stand in line at a grocery store without looking over and seeing the latest gossip all over magazine covers.  You listen to random conversations around you and hear people chiming in on all the latest news topics.  Kids have become mini-marketers posting video ads for toys that collect thousands of views and make thousands of dollars.  It’s hard to avoid.  Media is everywhere, and it influences our daily lives from the things we buy to the things we try to the things we think about daily.

We are living in a world of information overload as we are continuously inundated with information everywhere we turn, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  On the one hand, it’s impressive and inspirational to see people turn into designers, architects and celebrity chefs through clever social media marketing.  On the other hand, there is no off button to reduce the constant influx of horrifying news stories, the fixation on the dangers of humanity and the harmful effects of misinformation.  We live in a world where our days are filled with impressive home hacks and quick recipes to horrifying scenes of mass shootings and endless propaganda aimed at dehumanizing humanity.  Between all that chaos we are inundated with ads that distinctly target our desires.  It can be unnerving to know that every click we make is monitored and tracked for companies to present us with money saving deals and headlines.

Our minds race between wanting to create something great for dinner to thinking about the latest technological wizardry available for purchase to wanting to build a bomb shelter for our family to hide in until the persistent threats broadcast on the news no longer haunt us.  It’s a horrible play on our emotions.  With so much coming at us at such a fast pace it’s easy to feel like everything is out of our control.  I can understand why many people want to disconnect and close their eyes to the constant influx of information.  But are we truly helpless in a society inundated with media frenzy and rapid-fire information?    Absolutely not.

It’s important for members of society to recognize that our eyes are valuable to media outlets.  We are the targeted audience.  We must not allow our time and attention to be devalued.  By having a better understanding of media in all forms we can better prepare ourselves and our families to be wise consumers and efficient users of media. Critical viewing skill and media literacy skills should be viewed as being important for the safety and benefit of society.  Media in all forms has helped movements, created a world where we can connect with each other, but it has also promoted wars and hatred through repeated coverage with poor framing.

It’s imperative that our society, as audience members of media outlets, advocate for media literacy and critical viewing skills across the board for all ages.  In doing so, we can give society members the tools needed to protect ourselves from being inundated with unnecessary information, incorrect information and harmful information.  By promoting media literacy and critical viewing skills, we can begin to re-shape the way information is relayed and consumed to encourage a healthier media dynamic.

Arke (2005), showed a positive relationship between media literacy skills and critical thinking skills with quantitative data.  This study shows a correlation that many textbooks have previously only assumed.  Given this information, it’s important to work on expanding such studies to create effective interventions aimed at increasing media literacy skills throughout the lifespan.  With the reality of an ever-expanding age of information upon us, we can no longer choose to just disconnect from media outlets.  We must take proactive steps to ensure that society members are able to work through the information being spun daily.  As a society, whose attention is valuable to many media outlets, our increased media literacy skills can help shape the way media sources produce information.

Mingoia, Hutchinson, Gleaves & Wilson (2019), created a pilot study on the effects of media literacy on female university students.  They wanted to see if media literacy training would affect their opinion on tanning.  After providing media literacy training to participants for two weeks, the study showed that participants who received media literacy training experienced less internalization of tanning as being ideal for appearances.  Participants were less likely to become influenced by the allure of tanning which could have harmful effects such as skin cancer.  This study reflects the way media literacy skills increase critical thinking skills which in turn can help media audiences become more cautious consumers of media.  Media literacy skills can help prompt people to stop and really think about what is being seen, read or heard on media outlets before internalizing any negative or incorrect messages.  It’s a very important skill to have in our times.

It’s important to recognize that as members of a media loaded society, we are all responsible for media literacy and critical viewing skills.  We must remain vigilant in our own actions and avoid the bystander effect by choosing to be part of solutions that can change the system of media that many of us feel overwhelmed by.  Aside from advocating for media literacy in institutions through legislation, we must embrace our own responsibility of increasing media literacy around us.  We must be vigilant in our own actions and not diffuse responsibility to other people or institutions.  We all have a hand in this together.

The first thing we need to do is to encourage communication with each other.  When a person references a topic, they’ve seen broadcast on the news or something they saw on social media, we can encourage critical thinking by asking questions about it.  Encourage our friends, family and children to ask questions about the topic, the outlet that presented the topic, discuss the prospective of this topic and whether it’s positive or negative.  Use these moments as teachable moments with everyone.  Relate the topic to everyday life and everyday people.  Discuss implications of what was presented and how it was presented to offer a different perspective.  Model critical thinking skills by using critical thinking skills when talking about topics that tend to be hyper-propagandized.  When someone is exhibiting bias because of something on social media or on the news, don’t be afraid to call it out.  Encourage people to look for multiple sources of information to try to verify information.  We all play a role in influencing each other and by modeling critical thinking during conversations about things seen in various media outlets we can encourage media literacy skills in those around us.

It is well within our power and our right to be proactive in creating a solution to the information overload we all experience.  It’s part of our responsibility as a society to advocate for media literacy education to give society members the necessary tools needed to be critical consumers of media in all forms.  As more people in our society become critical consumers of the information provided by media outlets, it can change the dynamic of the media outlets themselves.  If we arm ourselves with the media literacy and critical thinking skills necessary to thrive in a world of information overload, we can reject misinformation and deter media sources that can be harmful.  In doing so, we could proactively change the way media sources are vying for our attention and shift it in a healthier pattern for everyone.




Arke, E. (2005). Media Literacy and Critical Thinking: Is There a Connection? (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/9

Media Literacy Now. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medialiteracynow.org/your-state-legislation/

Mingoia, J., Hutchinson, A. D., Gleaves, D. H., & Wilson, C. (2019). The impact of a social media literacy intervention on positive attitudes to tanning: A pilot study. Computers in Human Behavior,90, 188-195. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2018.09.004

Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019).  PSYCH 424 Lesson 9: Media/Communications Technology  Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1973019/modules/items/25635718

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Los Angeles: Sage.

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