Communication Class Reflects on Social Media Project 

By Benjamin Camp – Staff Writer

A University of Scranton professor is teaching a first-year seminar class about understanding the iGen Generation. 

The first-year seminar class, “explores the impact of how the smartphones and social media has profoundly impacted every aspect of the coming of age for the students and all members of our society, and understanding the negative effects of social media,” Professor Jack Strain said.  

The project conducted was called the Smartphone and Social Media Audit project.  

Strain created the project for the class because he is worried for his students.  

“I believe that social media and the overuse of the smartphone is changing the social fabric of our society, and is making us less happy,” Strain said.  

Students were expected to track multiple aspects of the project for a total of seven days, including the number of times someone checks their phone and the number of notifications they receive. 

The students also had to track the number of hours they spent on various social media apps, including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and others. After, they had to write 500 words explaining their experience with tracking their hours and their mental health state.  

One discovery made was that the average time spent on social media was 28 hours. 

Two students in the first-year seminar class, Michael Casey and Ava Wheeler, who started the project in the middle of September gave their insights on their work.  

Q: What is your favorite social media app? Why is it your favorite?  

A: “Snapchat is my favorite social media app, because it helps me stay in touch with friends and people who go to this school or who do not go to this school,” Casey said. 

A: “My favorite is probably Discord. I use it a lot for communicating with people,” Wheeler said.  

Q: What did you learn from this project?  

A: “It is crazy how much time people really spend on their phones. Even if it is four hours in a week, it is an entire day on your phone,” Casey said.  

A: “I learned that I do not use my phone quite as much as I thought I did, because I’m usually busy with schoolwork. There are some areas where I can cut down, especially with TikTok,” Wheeler said.  

Q: If you were to make any changes based on this project, how would you adapt to that change in your everyday life?  

A: “I have been trying to be in the moment like walking to class and looking at the views,” Caset said.  

A: “I would say setting timers on your phone, because if you go into your settings, you can set a limit. It made me feel less bad with the time I was wasting,” Wheeler said.  

Q: How long do you spend on social media before and after the project? 

A: “Combined maybe two-and-a-half to three, or maybe three and a-half-hours,” Michael said. Around an hour and a half to two. I try to use it a lot less,” Casey said.  

A: “Beforehand, I would spend over an hour on certain apps, especially with TikTok. More of the other applications were not bad, so I was happy with my usage,” Wheeler said. 

Despite the negative connotation social media use might have, Strain doesn’t want students to stop using the platforms.  

“I don’t want them to abstain from social media. I want them to find balance. I think so much for a happy life is about balance,” Strain said.  

He continued by elaborating on the journey to happiness.  

“Their life would have more satisfaction and [be] a little bit happier if they weren’t spending that enormous amount of time. Every individual has to find their number,” Strain said.