Pre-Thesis Week 7: Presentation and Discussion

Dazhen Yang
4 min readNov 1, 2021

Last week, we had our second presentation, to talk about how secondary research by reading articles reshaped our research statement. Generally, my topic about negative effects of social media remain the same. But some interesting findings about categories of causes and specific feelings enriched and refined my research questions. And since there is already many research about Facebook and Instagram, while little study done on the Wechat platform, which is comparatively more close and its main function is just messaging, so I decided to research negative feelings generated from features of Wechat platform.

Thoughts from classmates

Peer Review & Feedback:

  1. One key insight is that FoMO on social media platform lead to depressive emotions.
  2. An example of a connection I’ve made so far that I was unaware of since my last presentation is that FoMO along with other negative emotions are generated by intenal and external factors, including content-oriented, persons’ own characteristics, and emotion contagion.
  3. One idea that I’ve had to discard is my original topic about autism and aphasia among young people on social media platform, cause through research, I found that only Chinese young people would use these words related to disease to discribe their feelings. But they are not the true and general circumstance. The essence of the problem of negative emotions.
  4. What I feel cannot be answered by reading so far that I really need to use fieldwork or making to explore more thoroughly is whether users thought Wechat is the social platform is the one that brings them most negative feelings. Since it’s my own thoughts that Wechat affect my moods negatively, I need more research and cases to test such a closed environment of family members and close friend would have negative impact on young people’s mental health.

During the presentation and the discussion, I got many valuable feedbacks and suggestions from classmates. The video about misinformation talked about interesting facts on closed social platform like WhatsApp and Wechat, that misinformation frequently took place because users have difficulty finding the source of the information, so fake news could spread freely on these platforms. Since messages forwarded by multiple groups of people, including older adults that lack the skill to tell true news in the information age and people from another culture or area that are unfamiliar about the original news, misinformation often happened in ridiculous ways.

Another advice that I found really inspired me is to look at different domains other than smartphone usage that have the same addiction problem, which has significant and clear harm on people, but they just could not get rid of it. After thinking about this, we could see that most kinds of addiction, such as video game and cigarette, people tend to find pleasure and happiness in the process, which is regarded as one mental feature of the human nature. At first, absorbing negtive feelings on social media platforms looks like users are painful in the vicious cycle of social media overuse, but meanwhile, it is also a way to escape from one’s own reality life. Therefore, in my survey, I might ask questions to aquire special scenes where motivation of checking Wechat messages and moments occured, and what other things might be done together with social media overuse, or which one thing that the interviewer believes to be similar to the act of social media overuse, or say, social media addiction.

To look at the opposite demographic for those who prefer not being involved in social media might be helpful to compare with the emotions generated by university students who use social media more than 3 hours a day. I would start to recruit volunteers to participant the survey. Following are my initial thoughts: Participants would record their emotions or thoughts by emojis or texts(if they like) every three hours after getting up. There might be two groups, one for light users who use social media less than 3 hours a day, another for heavy users who use social media more than 3 hours a day. They would remain their user behavior for three days and record emotions during this period of time. Then the heavy users group should try their best to reduce time spent on social media platform for three days, and record their emotions. If participants could provide their real Wechat usage time counted by their phones, the results might be more credible. My concern is that the experiment might last for six days, so it would be difficult for me to recruit enough participants. I would refine the study designing and try to recruit participants this week!