From the editor:

Constant connection

June 11, 2019

I was watching an old episode of “The Office” the other day where Jim pranks Dwight by forwarding his cell phone to Jim’s Bluetooth. The phone was a flip phone and it struck me that it honestly wasn’t that long ago that phones were basically phones, not mini computers connected to us day and night. Now, I’m constantly connected to work, family, friends, entertainment, news, directions, weather and anything else you can imagine. Not only that, it seems like everyone is also connected to me, what I’m doing and what I like.

Aside from the occasional phone call or event, my work used to be done at the office. But now, I carry it with me everywhere I go. I have updated the MSU homepage from the baking aisle of Meijer and while sitting in the stands at a Spartan football game. I’ve filed work from the middle of Tanzania and the hills of China. I’ve saved files while on a bike ride and caught up on email from the hospital. Honestly, there’s a little good and a little bad about working from anywhere.

There’s a lot of fun from being connected too. I’ve watched Netflix on my phone in a plane over the ocean and I catch up with morning headlines before ever leaving bed. I Facetime with family I can’t see in person and never get lost thanks to directional apps. I track my workouts and heartrate with my watch and use the data when talking with my cardiologist. It’s like the world is literally at our fingertips.

But, all that connected time is creating data somewhere that all sorts of people are getting their hands on. You know the feeling, you say something out loud like, “We need a new couch” and all of a sudden, ads for couches start appearing in your Facebook feed. My husband swears that the other day he didn’t search or say anything out loud and the internet started serving him up ads for something he had only thought about. When I get in my car, my watch tells me how long it is to my destination…it actually knows the days I work and the times I go to the gym and other places. It’s all a little freaky.

In a way, life seems easier and more complicated all at once. And what is all this screen time doing to our psyche and well-being? Just what are the consequences of all our media use?

A group of researchers from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences are seeking to find answers to those questions doing work in the field of media psychology. In fact, there is a larger concentration of media psychologists at MSU than anywhere in the world, so we’re definitely poised to figure some things out. Check out the information and video in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: The psychology of screen time, to learn more about their fascinating work.

Lindsay Hahn is one of those researchers studying media psychology. A doctoral candidate in the college, she’s focused on the relationship between empathy and media, particularly in children. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Media and kids, to learn more about her work and why she believes “media can actually have some positive effects on children’s values as well.”

Anna Gamelo is also interested in human interaction with media, but from a different perspective. A recent graduate from the College of Arts and Letters, she earned a degree in experience architecture, a cutting-edge interdisciplinary major focusing on designing experiences for people in digital and physical environments. Read her STUDENT VIEW: All-around Spartan, to learn more about her studies and opportunities as a student.

There are days I hate being so connected to everything all the time, but most days I’m grateful for the ability to do so much and access information in the palm of my hand. I’m also grateful that Spartans are leading the way to figure out what all this connectiveness is really doing to us.  I love the pioneering spirit of Spartans everywhere. Got a challenging question? There’s a Spartan ready to find an answer. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday
twitter bird@LMulcrone

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash