Published: Feb. 26, 2019

MSU experts can discuss National Day of Unplugging

Contact(s): Caroline Brooks Communications and Brand Strategy office: 517-432-0920

March 1 marks National Day of Unplugging, and Michigan State University has a host of experts who can discuss the current state of social media and device overuse.

American adults spend, on average, more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or interacting with screens, up nine hours and 32 minutes from 2014. While unplugging from a work computer might be frowned upon, research suggests that taking a break from the constant Twitter scrolling would do some good.

Expertise of MSU’s faculty range from Facebook addiction to malware susceptibility, as well as the psychiatry behind social platform trends. These experts include:

  • Farha Abbasi, assistant professor of psychiatry: Abbasi can speak to the mental health effects electronic usage – both the good and the bad – have on both today’s younger and older generations, and the benefits of unplugging for a day. Abbasi can also speak to trends she’s seen over the last decade during her time as a staff psychiatrist at MSU’s student health center. Abbasi can be reached at or (517) 353-5372.
  • Saleem Alhabash, professor of advertising and public relations: Alhabash’s research, published in December 2018, found that to quit Facebook for just one year, users would require an average of more than $1,000. To find this, Alhabash assessed Facebook’s value to its users in contrast to its market value or its contribution to gross domestic product. Alhabash can be reached at or (517) 432-2178.
  • Shelia Cotten, MSU Foundation Professor of media and information: Cotten focuses on the social, emotional and health impacts of technology across the life span, especially older people. She can discuss the general gap in technology users and why it’s easier for older people to unplug. Cotten can be reached at or (517) 353-6336.
  • Allison Eden, assistant professor of communication: She can discuss why social media is so hard to resist. In a study, she and co-researchers found even brief exposure to a Facebook-related image (logo, screenshot) can cause a pleasurable response in frequent social media users, which in turn might trigger social media cravings. Eden can be reached at or (517) 355-9609.
  • Morgan Ellithorpe, assistant professor of advertising and public relations: Ellithorpe studies the effect of media on health and well-being. She recently conducted research on binge watching, finding it can have negative effects on people’s health including foregoing sleep in order to continue watching, selecting unhealthy meals, unhealthy snacking and sedentary behavior. But such entertainment can also bring joy and help destress, which is why unplugging from TV and Netflix can be so difficult. Ellithorpe can be reached at or (517) 355-0256.
  • Thomas Holt, professor of criminal justice: Holt’s most recent research uncovered personality traits that put people at risk for cybercrime. He has also extensively researched cyberbullying, recent trends in cyberterrorism and catching credit card thieves. Holt can be reached at or (517) 353-9563.
  • Anastasia Kononova, assistant professor of advertising and public relations: She can discuss media multitasking. In a study last year, she found multiple screen use can affect snack choices. When people feel overwhelmed by using various forms of technology, they eat worse. Kononova can be reached at or (517) 432-5129.
  • Dar Meshi, professor of advertising and public relations: Meshi’s recently released research, “Excessive social media use is comparable to drug addiction,” discovered that social media fanatics have impaired decision-making capabilities – which are comparable to drug addicts. Meshi can be reached at or (517) 355-1282.