Joanne Broder Sumerson, PhD
Technology has largely changed our lives for the better. Turn back the clock to 2004 and we had not hit the mobile wave (Saylor, 2012) of smartphone and social media use. Online learning needed a camera crew for the professor and a special computer lab for the students, as opposed to today’s convenience of logging on to a website that can be accessed from the palm of our hand. Hello, video chats that connect us with loved ones with a clear enough signal; goodbye, to fuzzy long distance calls. Thanks to the Internet, 30 million people telecommute or work from home at least one day per week, which is expected to increase by 63% in 2018 (Rapoza, 2013) because most business can be conducted from anywhere. Smartphones and tablets allow us to multi-task and conduct our business while on the go or waiting.
We are doing things we could not fathom a decade ago. Members of the Society for Media Psychology and Technology are on the cutting edge of this advancement through their amazing work. We are researching, publishing, practicing, teaching (online and in the classroom), and out there talking about it; we are DOING it. We were the first division to hold video board meetings and among the first to host webinars on hot topics on media psychology. We are also going to be the first to hold Virtual Social Hours to helps us stay connected, even when we are not in the same room. We are going to continue to pioneer the of use of Technology for the Good (kudos to Jerri Lynn Hogg’s 2015 presidential initiatives), we are going to build community with other APA divisions, by mentoring and helping other divisions to use technology to be more productive.
As much as we have embraced our tech-savvy lifestyles, there is a down side to being plugged in, such as heads constantly pointing down and not participating in live interactions with people. As much as these online groups and connections have created several new communities and keep people connected in new ways, time online takes away from time offline, which we all desperately need. Rosen, Carrier, Miller, Rokkum, and Ruiz (2016) recommend that we do not sleep with technology by our side, particularly the teens, who report waking up multiple times each night to check their phones in fear that they missed out on something.
How can we maintain a balance in our lives between technology use and non-technological activities? It is easy to suggest to people to just unplug and do things that being plugged in does not allow. Too much technology and a lack of presence was found to harm relationship quality and awareness of safety (Dougherty, 2015).
There is a list of specific questions we will address in 2017. How can the Society for Media Psychology and Technology serve the public? What type of resources do we need to help societal stakeholders (parents, youth, etc.) to manage their device use? How can we motivate people to log off so they can give their undivided attention to their present situation? What can people to do to manage their anxiety when they are unplugged?
These are questions we need to work on together. I look forward to serving you through my forthcoming journey as President-Elect.
Saylor, M., (2012). The Mobile Wave. Philadelphia, PA: Vanguard Press.