Digital Me photo is in run to win BU Research Photography Competition 2017

We are delighted to see Digital Me photo being recognised by Bournemouth University’s Research Photography Competition 2017.

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Photographer: Harry Cutler-Smith

Photo by Harry Cutler-Smith is the one selected for voting. It is not over yet and time to vote. Please do support our image by voting via link.

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Parallel Worlds

by Samreen Ashraf

Men have become the tools of their tools”

Henry David Thoreau

Walking down the road you might see someone wearing a Manchester United t-shirt, taking sips from their Starbucks cup while face timing on their iPhone. An onlooker might conclude that this person is an avid football (more precisely Man United) fan with a strong taste for coffee who loves the innovative side of Apple.

In a second scenario you come across various social media accounts of a successful manager where all of these accounts portray her differently. For example, she is a party goer on Facebook, twitter shows her a well-informed individual, snapchat indicates her crazy stories, Instagram shows her photographer side (and hence the attached picture) whereas LinkedIn has her all achievements listed.

By going through these two scenarios it can be easily inferred that almost everybody is living two lives these days, an online vibrant life and an offline real life.

Whether or not these people know that by consuming certain products offline (the first scenario) or online (the second) they are creating their persona about who they are, what they are like and what they enjoy the most depending on their situations. These personas lead to certain labels attached to these people which can be also termed their identities and these impact their decisions including consumption.

Thus consumption provides a chance to the consumers to build and express their self-image and identities through their product/service choices not only to themselves but to the people around them.

Consumer identity might not have been as relevant a topic before but now due to the explosion of social media, mobile technology and big data; it impacts on everyday aspects of life.

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Parallel Worlds, photographer: Joao Sousa, model: Samreen Ashraf

This whole scenario has changed marketing communications throughout the globe and hence the ways companies interact with the consumers.

A significant difference is evident between the interaction methods used by the companies currently and ten years ago. There is a revolution in the way organisations are developing their marketing messages knowing what consumers stand for and the labels they attach to themselves. Consumer identity is also referred to as the core of customer relation management that means attracting the customers on the basis of congruence between them and the company. For example the Lloyds tag line and their TVC appeals the customers on the basis of trust and security which assures the consumers that the bank will always be with them regardless of their life situation. In another example, a person who considers him/herself environment friendly (green) would rather opt for an e cigarettes than traditional tobacco.

With examples like these, it can be concluded that incorporating consumer identities in marketing messages can be a way forward for companies to succeed in the global market place.

Digital Every Day

by Maria Musarskaya 

We live in a digital era, which can be described in various aspects: the digitalisation of information storage, the emergence of web society, the replacement of face-to-face interaction with digital social networks, the decrease in the influence of traditional media, and the constant need to be in-the-know of what is happening in the world. There are many characteristics of what the digital era is and what it offers the consumers and some of such characteristics are contradicting, for example: interactivity, dissociation, momentariness, timeless, and convergence. The discussion of social network phenomenon and traditional media crisis serves in revealing the following relevant issues of the information space: the information content creation, dissemination, and changes in consumer behaviour.

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Digital Every Day, photographer: Andrea Gette, model: Maria Musarskaya

A recent trend in any business practice is to fulfill the need of transforming customer experience and customer engagement through mobile devices. As is seen in the relevant photograph, the consumer is present in a social setting, yet is using a digital device to communicate and to share her experiences with people other than those she is surrounded by. In this instance the real world and the online existence of the consumer are converged and her life is being lived yet is being transmitted online. The consumer is more connected than ever before, yet the social interaction in a physical setting is hindered by the presence of technology.

Maria’s life in the real world and online has merged as almost every aspect of her life in some way depends on her connectivity to the digital world.

 

Digital Technology in Education: The case of Peerwise

by David Biggins, Dr Elvira Bolat, Emma Crowley, Dr Huseyin Dogan, and Dr Mihai Dupac

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Digital in Education, photographer: Mahmut Bolat, models: Marcus Redford, Rebecca Roulstone, Jack Simmons, Conor Sturgess, Abbie Thompson

For many education providers, student engagement can be a major issue. Given the positive correlation between engagement and good performance, providers are continually looking for ways to engage students in the learning process. The growth of student digital literacy, the wide proliferation of online tools and the understanding of why online gaming can be addictive have combined to create a set of tools that providers can leverage to enhance engagement. One such tool is Peerwise, https://peerwise.cs.auckland.ac.nz/, an online, multiple choice question (MCQ) and answer tool in which students create questions that are answered by other students. Why use MCQs? Using MCQs tests knowledge, provides reassurance of learning, identifies gaps and makes this data available to student and provider. Students use this information to focus their time on areas requiring additional work, benefiting from the early feedback provided. Formative assess- ments using MCQs are beneficial in preparing students for summative testing and are appreciated and liked by students. Providers can use this information to determine how the material is being received and react accordingly. Students use Peerwise to create MCQs that are answered, rated and commented on by their peers. Students’ engagement in Peerwise earns trophies for contributing regular use and for providing feedback, all of which act to stimulate further engagement, using the principles of gamification. Bournemouth University, a public university in the UK with over 18,000 students, has been embedding Peerwise in under-graduate and post-graduate units since 2014. The results experienced by Bournemouth University have been beneficial and correlate with other studies of using Peerwise. A statistically significant improvement was seen by one cohort of students compared to the previous year where Peerwise was not used. However, no correlation was found between Peerwise participation and a student’s unit mark. The processes followed by Bournemouth University and the advantages and disadvantages, backed by qualitative and quantitative data, will be presented so that other institutions can gain an informed view of the merits of Peerwise for their own teaching and learning environments.

Access full article Biggins, D., Crowley, E., Bolat, E.Dupac, M. and Dogan, H., 2015. Enhancing university student engagement using online multiple choice questions and answers. Open Journal of Social Sciences, pp. 71-76 below: 

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Conference papers related to Peerwise:

Biggins, D., Crowley, E., Bolat, E.Dupac, M. and Dogan, H., 2015. Using Peerwise to improve engagement and learning. In: The European Conference on Education 1-5 July 2015 Brighton, United Kingdom. Japan: The International Academic Forum (IAFOR), 585-602.

 

Women in the Digital

by Dr Parisa Gilani

In 2015 the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) published an extensive report on the state of the UK Digital and Creative Sectors. The Digital sector was defined as consisting of primarily telecommunications, computer programming and related consulting activities, information service activities and the repair of computers and other goods (UKCES, 2015). The study found that despite the growth of the sector (which was seen to be growing at a faster rate than the UK economy as a whole), only 27% of those employed in the UK’s digital industries were women, compared to 33% in 2002. This is less that the UK average of 47% for female employees

At a global level, Google is a good example of this trend in practice. Data from last year demonstrates that 31% of Google’s employees are women. This figure is considerably less at 19% when we solely look at their tech employees, although this is a slight increase from 18% in 2014 (Google, 2015).

Despite a clear picture of these trends both in the UK and further afield, there is much debate about why the representation of women in the digital sector is so low. Tara Mussell, two time Venus Award Winner and founder and Chief Operating Officer of Ratio, a successful software company based in Dorset, said in a recent Venus Magazine interview ‘I think the female voice is definitely lacking from the digital space. It seems the further you get away from London, the less women there are in senior positions in the digital space’ (Venus, 2016).

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Women in the Digital Sector, photographer: Mahmut Bolat, model: Elvira Bolat

A UKCES 2012 study indicated that women are less likely to enter the digital sector as well as progress in it. Furthermore it suggested that there are still few female students studying related subjects at A-Level and degree level. UKCES cites a 2014 report by e-skills UK, which found that females accounted for only 12% of applicants to computer science and IT related education courses in 2013.

Whilst this perhaps creates a rather a negative picture of the state of the digital sector, and women’s role in it, there are a number of steps being taken with the UK to try and increase female representation. For example the Tech Partnership is a network of employers who work together to create skills for the UK’s digital economy. One of their particular focusses is on inspiring girls aged 9-14 to develop their technological skills and become interested in digital careers, through their TechFuture Girls School Clubs. A similar approach is being adopted in the US though the non-profit organisation led ‘Girls Who Code’ initiative (The Tech Partnership, 2016).

There are also important initiatives aimed to encourage and support the development and progression of women more widely in technology. For example the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU)’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 and aims to ‘encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research’ (Athena Swan, 2016). Bournemouth University have recently been awarded a Bronze Award from Athena Swan, recognising its focus on trying to tackle gender inequality in higher education.

There are clearly efforts being made in the UK to address the lack of women working in the Digital Sector. However there is a still a long way to go. With the UK digital and creative sector expected to grow substantially by 2022 (UKCES, 2015), it is vital that as much as possible is done to ensure that progress continues to made!

Moreover, expansion of women-led start-ups being successful and competitive is due to digital technologies enabling access to resources and capabilities that were not available to business women before. Image below is taken by Wandering brand team showcasing the founder and owner, Giorgia Gabriele, using mobile tech to capture brand installation for marketing and connecting with consumers purposes.

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Women in Business with Digital Help, photographer: Wandering brand team, model: Giorgia Gabriele

References and Further Reading

Equality Challenge Unit (ECU). 2016. Athena Swan Charter [online]. London: ECU. Available from http://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Gibbs, S. 2014. Women in technology: no progress on inequality for 10 years, The Guardian [online], 14 May 2014. Available from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/14/women-technology-inequality-10-years-female [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Girls Who Code, 2016, About Us [online]. Girls Who Code. Available from https://girlswhocode.com/about-us/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Google, 2015. Focussing on Diversity [online]. Mountain View: Google. Available from https://blog.google/topics/diversity/focusing-on-diversity30/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

The Tech Partnership, 2016. About the Tech Partnership [online]. London: The Tech Partnership. Available from https://www.thetechpartnership.com/about/ [Accessed 30 October 2016]

UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills), 2015. UK Commission’s 2015 Sector Skills Insights: skills and performance challenges in the digital and creative sector. UKCES Evidence Report no. 92 [online]. Wath-upon-Dearne: UKCES. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/433755/Skills_challenges_in_the_digital_and_creative_sector.pdf [Accessed 30 October 2016]

UKCES (UK Commission for Employment and Skills), 2012. UK Commission’s Information and Communication Technologies: Sector Skills Assessment 2012. UKCES Briefing Paper [online]. Wath-upon-Dearne: UKCES. Available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/306419/briefing-paper-ssa12-information-communication-technologies.pdf [Accessed 30 October 2016]

Women in STEM, 2016. Tackling the gender imbalance in the UK tech sector [online]. Mediaplanet. Available from http://www.womeninstem.co.uk/women-in-tech/tackling-the-gender-imbalance-in-the-uk-tech-sector [Accessed 30 October 2016].

Championing a Cause

by Maria Musarskaya

Coming of age during a time of rapid and dramatic technological advances, millennials make up a unique generation. They regularly use social media – 88% report getting their news from Facebook—and are savvy users of the Internet, one of the most important and powerful tools of their time. Checking their phones an average of 43 times a day, millennials seem to be perpetually connected to the world around them, and interact with each other on social media on an almost continuous basis.

This connectedness is an essential mechanism with which members of our generation communicate with each other not only just to socialize, but also to advance our ideas of social justice for the world we live in. There are many Facebook pages and Twitter profiles dedicated to social movements, including Social Justice Solutions and Social Justice Warriors, which have a combined 221,000 followers. To millennials, social media is a valuable organizing tool for the causes they champion. And since social media is a relatively recent and constantly evolving phenomenon—Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are continually tweaking how they work—the strategies activists use to promote change are evolving along with it. This trend can be seen by examining the evolving methods of two major social movements that much of our generation is currently engaged with: Black Lives Matter, and the push for equality among people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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We Demand Justice, photographer: Hector Paulino, model: Hector Paulino

As seen in the above image, the user of Facebook, Hector Paulino, is showing his support for and raising awareness about justice by adding a filter which adds a note to his picture saying ‘WE DEMAND JUSTICE’ and sharing it on his social media profiles.

Mobile in Education: Assessing with Tablets

by Dr Elvira Bolat & Dr Milena Bobeva

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Mobile Technology as Assessment Tool, photographer/camera man: Shaun Osborne, model: Elvira Bolat

Technology is confirmed to be an effective tool for assessment and feedback, in particular for computer-assisted assessment (Irons, 2008; Challis, 2005), producing feedback (Heinrich et al., 2009) and publishing feedback (Bloxham and Boyd, 2007; Denton, 2003; Denton et al., 2008). The arrival of affordable mobile devices has introduced a new means for enhancing the above practices (Fabian and MacLean, 2014; Plimmer and Mason, 2006; Salem, 2013). Student preferences to smart phones and tablet devices steer the technological innovation towards ubiquitous mobile connectivity. Inspired by the benefits of such life and study style, educators have started exploring the use of these technologies. Tablet computers prove to become their preferred choice as they resolve some of the limitations associated with the design, readability and comprehensiveness of the feedback for mobile devices with smaller screens (Strain-Seymour, 2013, Rootman-le Grange and Lutz, 2013). This paper reports how tablets and the Form Connext mobile app have been used for engaging a sample of 300 Business Studies students in in-class online assessment and designing and providing timely comprehensive feedback. The study has followed an action research strategy that is grounded on a continuous and dynamic process of reflection (Carr and Kemmis, 2003) on the effectiveness of assessment of student projects documented electronically through wikis and electronic portfolios. It refines the use of tablets for summative and formative assessment of the project-based learning tasks through three review cycles, each of which incorporated a Reflection and Improvements stage. The experience resulted in enhancement of assessment strategies and contribution to the development of contemporary models of learning through effective assessment and feedback (Carr and Kemmis, 2003). The results of the work confirm that tablet computers are an effective tool in assessing e-materials in larger classes for two primary reasons. Firstly, design of e-forms facilitates rigorous process of reflection and understanding assessment criteria that in turn benefit students when preparing for the assessment. Hence, legible and detailed feedback is produced anytime anywhere with synchronous updates within the marking team. Secondly, students benefit from immediate comprehensive feedback allowing them to reflect on and improve their understanding of subject matters, as well as to engage in discussing specific details of the work that are captured through the form. An unexpected outcome was the enhanced reputation and respect to the tutors amongst students, the triggering of student curiosity and enthusiasm in applying similar approach to their own work. The diffusion for the practice amongst other units and identifying other purposes for which the mobile app could be used are also seen as achievements exceeding the expectations of the project team.

Access full text, Bolat, E., 2014. Using tablets for e-assessment of project-based learning. In: 13th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL-2014, 30–31 October 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark, below:

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Social media ‘on the go’: Does age has any impact?

by Harry Cutler-Smith

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Social Media ‘On the Go’ & Age Difference, photographer: Harry Cutler-Smith, models: Janet Cutler, George Cutler

Introduction

Social media can, therefore, be seen as an extension of people’s lives with opportunities to construct virtual identities as well as personal, social and professional spaces that altogether extend boundaries of offline contexts. Social media consumption is particularly immersive and complex in the cases when individuals are accessing and using social media on the go, via mobile devices. Although extensive number of studies explored the consumers’ adoption of mobile technology and adoption of social media, adoption of mobile social media (consumption of social media on mobile devices) remains underexplored. Moreover, existing research on social media adoption has identified two generational groups, generation Y (aged 18-25) and generation X (aged 35-60) which have active use of social media, although their motives and attitudes towards social media as well as consumption patterns differ. With the increased use of social media ‘on the go’, no existing studies have investigated the generational gap in the adoption and use of mobile social media (MSM).

Theoretical Background

Social media, defined as technological platforms and channels which enable interaction, exchange of information and content virtually between individuals, groups of individuals anywhere anytime (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010; Kietzmann et al., 2010), represents an increasingly important way for brands and businesses to connect and interact with consumers (Murdough, 2009). The challenge, however, lies in viewing social media as simply another technological tool that facilitates conversations and exchange of information. With time social media has become a platform, which individuals rely on and are dependant upon during their daily lives and business activities. Social media can, therefore, be seen as an extension of people’s lives with opportunities to construct virtual identities as well as personal, social and professional spaces that altogether extend boundaries of offline contexts (Correa et al., 2010). Social media consumption is particularly immersive and complex in the cases when individuals are accessing and using social media on the go, via mobile devices.

Consumption of social media via mobile devices (MSM) is compelling to individuals because of the means of production, distribution and consumption – all found on a single device, which individuals can carry anywhere anytime (portability) and can personalise according to own interest and needs (Humphreys, 2013; Bolat, 2014). Simple rationale for the increased usage rates of MSM is in a convenience deriving from ability to quickly share timely and, therefore, relevant footage, data and content with others (Bolat et al., 2016). Due to SNS being embedded within mobile phones and tablets computers, there was a noticeable increase in mobile phone usage rate over the past decade (Goggin, 2010). This is due to their integration within individuals’ lives. Social media is on the rise due to the fact that it is widely accessible and to some degree essential. Accessing social media on the go enables continuous accessibility and connection with social ties as well as creates opportunities for constant

presence and engagement in the social media context (Bolat et al., 2016). Having said that, research into understanding consumers’ experiences with using and adopting MSM is scarce and fragmented. Studies around social media adoption and usage can be divided within the two main streams, technical in nature papers (Trusov et al., 2009; Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010; Tsai and Men, 2013; Gamboa and Gonçalves, 2014; Moncrief et al., 2015
 ) where social media technical and functional features od ‘media’ component are assessed and papers studying the ‘social’ component with a focus on understanding behavioural aspects of social media use, to name few, social interaction, social ties, social identity (Kwon and Wen, 2010; Shiue et al., 2010) and the application of social media in both the consumer and the business contexts (Baird and Fisher, 2005; Eyrich et al., 2008).

In investigation of social behavioural aspects of social media consumption, however, technical side of SNS is also captured. In particular, Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis et al., 1989) has been adopted to examine the role of perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness on individuals’ attitudes towards the adoption of social media (Eyrich et al., 2008; Steyn et al., 2010; Hajli, 2014). Moreover, privacy and trust issues which usually lead to negative associations when adopting technology, have dual effect in the social media context where permission-based communication is enabled due to technical ability of SNS users to control their privacy settings (Ashley and Tuten, 2015). Other studies like De Valck et al. (2009) extended TAM by incorporating Theory of reasoned action (TRA) (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980) to investigate how SNS affects the decision-making processes of consumers. De Valck et al. (2009) found that social ties formed via SNS have a significant impact on consumers’ motivations to engage with SNS. Social media word-of-mouth (sWOM) is proven to have higher impact on consumers’ decisions and evaluations than offline WOM (Tursov et al., 2009; Kozinets et al., 2010). In studying the motives of consumers to use social media existing studies (Porter and Donthu, 2008; Johnson and Yang, 2009; Hughes et al., 2012) adopted the uses and gratification approach (Blumler and Katz, 1974). The most evident motives to use social media are social and informational (Johnson and Yang, 2009; Hughes et al, 2012). Informational motives refer to desire to obtain and consume content. Social motives are more complex and include rational motives of sharing information and emotional motives that include social connections and creating social dynamics (Krishnamurthy and Dou, 2008). Moreover, Leung (2006) have emphasised the impact of psychological motives on individuals’ adoption and use of social media and in particular found that those users, which show signs of boredom, often retreat to social networking in an effort to satisfy their need of entertainment. In addition, numerous studies (Correa et al., 2010; Heinonen, 2011; Hughes et al., 2012) focused on classifying and categorising the social media used based on their psychological motives to engage with social media. These studies concluded that extraversion, neuroticism and openness are the main personality traits of the typical social media user.

Although users’ motives to engage with social media are extensively researched, little is known about individuals’ motives to engage with MSM. In addition to entertainment, social and informational motives, mobile devices offer the users functional value – technical competencies of mobile technology such as transmission and exchange of content in various formats, ease of use of technical functions, multi-tasking functionality of allowing to combine voice conversations, text communication and web-browsing (Bolat, 2014). Hence, it rationale to assume that functional motives positively influence attitudes of individuals to use MSM.

Moreover, existing research on social media adoption (Vanslyke, 2003) has identified two generational groups, generation Y (aged 18-25) and generation X (aged 35-60) which have active use of social media, although their motives and attitudes towards social media differ. These two groups were defined by Prensky as ‘Digital Natives’ (generation Y) and ‘Immigrants’ (generation X), describing the generational gap between the Internet users (Vanslyke, 2003). Existing studies demonstrate that two generational groups differ in the ways they consumer social media. Itom et al. (2008) discuss the impact social media has on the younger generation, for example communication, socialising skills and even self- expression, which are all enhanced through their use of social media platforms (Itom et al., 2008). Whereas digital immigrants adopt social media in order to engage connect with others to fill their need for companionship and to participate in new activities (Prensky, 2001). With the increased use of social media ‘on the go’, no existing studies have investigated the generational gap in the adoption and use of MSM.

 

Based on the above review of existing research, the following conceptual model and hypotheses are being proposed (figure 1), which examines consumers’ adoption and engagement with social media ‘on the go’ (MSM), with particular focus on the role the consumer’s age plays in the adoption of MSM.

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Figure 1. Conceptual model and hypotheses

Methodology

The data was collected using the mixed methods of data collection, the focus groups and the survey. Focus group included exploratory phase of in-depth investigation on differences different age groups experience when using social media on the go by focusing on (1) mapping individual’s daily engagement with social media across devices and (2) asking individuals across two different age groups to ‘show and tell’ how they use and consumer social media on their mobile devices. Following focus group, the survey measurement instrument was modified to capture results of qualitative data analysis. Snowball sampling was applied to ensure the survey gained the most exposure possible. It was shared through online networking sites (Facebook and Twitter). The survey was sent to multiple (20+) specific peers, who were asked to complete and share the survey with as many others within the required age brackets. To lessen the issue of bias responses the initial recipients weren’t chosen at random (family, close friends) and were required to send it only to those who they felt would complete the survey appropriately. The entire online survey consisted of 11 questions, using multiple choice answers and a Likert scale. The statements can be seen in the downloadable measurement instrument.

Thematic analysis and regression statistics were used to analyse mixed data.

Findings

Focus Group

A total of 8 participants from two age groups (18-25 and 35-60) took part in a focus group.

Figure 2 illustrates touchpoints with social media on-the-go: “Home” and “Work” were two locations which came up frequently amongst the group, also a theme of multiple locations of social media usage with generation Y was noticeably higher.

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Figure 2. Information on the location / activity of social media usage (%)

Figure 3 depicts the number of each individual’s use of certain devices. A distinct pattern shows that both generation X and Y all use a smartphone when using social media, the pattern continues but the number of individuals decrease with the use of a games console / smart TV and or tablet device. The younger generation presented slightly higher in terms of using a computer / laptop to engage with social media during their average daily routine.

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Figure 3. Information on the devices participants used for accessing social media ‘on the go’ (%)

Figure 4 illustrates that “Social Networking” and “Social Entertainment” are as the most common purposes among the two age groups, although more common with generation Y (younger age group). “Social Commerce” and “Social Publishing” presented no distinguishing differences with either generation.

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Figure 4. Purposes of using social media ‘on the go’ (%)

Figure 5 demonstrates that only 1 network isn’t used by an individual from the younger age group whereas generation X only use 50% of the proposed networks.

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Figure 5. Social media networks used ‘on the go’ (%)

Analysis of the focus group discussion suggests differences and similarities in motives to use social media on-the-go across two age groups.

Similarities: The first similarity is the devices used by participates, both parts of this study suggest mobile usage is increasing and people tend to access social media on their mobiles. (Humphreys 2013). Culture also impacted on user’s engagement with social media; users from both age groups stated aspects of cultural change which influences their use of social media on the go (Strutton et al. 2011). This linked to the motive of time and location; participates which had family in other countries had relied much more on social media as a platform to communicate; somewhat supporting the authors second research question. The author found that social motives for usage of social media on mobile devices came up more frequently amongst all ages when compared to the other motives; supporting the authors third research question (Humphreys 2013).

Differences: The results from both parts of the focus group have identified trends of differences amongst the two generations; this refers to the diverse factors each age group deem influential to their social media usage. The review of literature suggests (Correa et al. 2009; Boltan et al. 2006) that the level of diversity exhibited by an individual can lower their engagement with social media; literature states that the younger generation are more open to diversity and there for more likely to engage with multiple forms social media (Boltan et al. 2006). The results indicate that generation Y used more SNS than the older generation, suggesting that diversity does have an effect on an individual’s usage of social media. This could also be a result of other traits; extraversion is linked to those individuals who are enthusiastic of adopting social media resulting in higher usage of social media. It was indicated during the discussion that two members of the younger age group were reluctant to adopt new forms of social media, even though they are active users of other SNS. Openness suggests an individual is less likely to change and/or adopt; Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga (2009) state that generation Y score lower in regards to openness to social media. During the discussion the author noted that the older generation exhibited less diversification, but higher adoption to using social media to fulfil the need to communicate (Strutton et al. 2011; Correa et al. 2009). The differences, stated above indicate the authors question on whether there is a difference in the way both age groups use social media on the go is supported. Entertainment factors of social media usage refer to video content, gaming and other forms of social media which allows users to lessen boredom (Leung 2006). From the results of the mapping activity the younger generation scored 50% higher than the older age group when considering entertainment as a motive of social media use. Video streaming such as; YouTube is considered a source of entertainment accessible through social media on mobile devices (Shao 2009). The higher score for use of YouTube with the younger generation could explain. The results from both parts of the focus group have identified trends of differences amongst the two generations; this refers to the diverse factors each age group deem influential to their social media usage. The review of literature suggests (Correa et al. 2009; Boltan et al. 2006) that the level of diversity exhibited by an individual can lower their engagement with social media; literature states that the younger generation are more open to diversity and there for more likely to engage with multiple forms social media (Boltan et al. 2006). The results indicate that generation Y used more SNS than the older generation, suggesting that diversity does have an effect on an individual’s usage of social media. This could also be a result of other traits; extraversion is linked to those individuals who are enthusiastic of adopting social media resulting in higher usage of social media. It was indicated during the discussion that two members of the younger age group were reluctant to adopt new forms of social media, even though they are active users of other SNS. Openness suggests an individual is less likely to change and/or adopt; Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga (2009) state that generation Y score lower in regards to openness to social media. During the discussion the author noted that the older generation exhibited less diversification, but higher adoption to using social media to fulfil the need to communicate (Strutton et al. 2011; Correa et al. 2009). The differences, stated above indicate the authors question on whether there is a difference in the way both age groups use social media on the go is supported. Entertainment factors of social media usage refer to video content, gaming and other forms of social media which allows users to lessen boredom (Leung 2006). From the results of the mapping activity the younger generation scored 50% higher than the older age group when considering entertainment as a motive of social media use. Video streaming such as; YouTube is considered a source of entertainment accessible through social media on mobile devices (Shao 2009). The higher score for use of YouTube with the younger generation could explain the increase of entertainment being a motive for social media usage on the go for generation X. There were no diverse correlations between the device usages amongst either age group, supporting that each age group could revert to different means (devices) in order to fulfil their need for entertainment (Shao 2009). The concerns of privacy is an issue all users of social media should take into consideration, especially in regards to the younger generation; whom are noted for not taking responsible measures when sharing, posting content online. The motive of privacy became a prominent difference compared with the two age groups; the discussion identified that the younger generation wasn’t as conscious to the issues of fraud or invasion to privacy as much as the older generation (O’Keeffe et al. 2011). The differences above indicate particular differences in relation to both age groups; supporting the authors forth research question.

Focus group study suggested that social motives were the main influence towards both age groups consumption of social media on the go; due to literature (Blight et al. 2015; Correa et al. 2009; Humphreys 2013; Hughes et al. 2012) emphasising the impact communication, forming relations and interaction had on user’s activity. Both generations are actively using social media on their mobiles, the fact that both age groups utilise social media to communicate and the differences of opinions both generations apply to the motives to use social media on the go (privacy, entertainment and location).

Figure 6 provides overview on hypotheses testing and confirmation.

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Figure 6. Overview table for hypotheses testing

The overall results from survey suggest that a majority of my hypotheses are supported and from this the authors research questions (1-3) are concluded with positive results. The users’ attitude towards social media was found to have an impact on the user’s actual use of social media on-the-go (H7) with a positive relationship .572 and strong significance between the two variables (ATT and AU1). This is also the case with the further two research questions; impact of time and location on users’ intention and indication on the specific motives which influence engagement of social media on-the-go.

Time and location was found to have a considerable impact on user intention of social media on-the-go (H8b) with a positive relationship .568 the hypothesis is supported; making time and location an important factor for businesses to consider when targeting members of either generation. Excluding the privacy factor and the age moderation of social and information motives; all other motives and factors have a positive impact on user engagement and are supported with the influence of age moderation, concluding the third research question proposed by the author. The fourth and final research question is positively supported in regards to entertainment and functional use, with the age moderation suggesting that age impacts the attitudes towards these motives when using social media on-the-go. The review of literature (Strutton et al. 2011; Bolton et al. 2013) supports the findings of age moderation as entertainment is widely adopted by the younger generation which are considered “Digital Natives”.

The result findings help propose supported methods which could benefit the business world. The impact of the motives on users’ actual use of social media on-the-go suggests that in order to target the younger generation, it is important to incorporate specific factors such as entertainment to enhance the consumers interest to the communication; the impact of entertainment is supported by Shao (2009). The factor of privacy wasn’t continued through to the regression analysis due to its unreliability; however, the discussion from study 1 proved that privacy isn’t an issue considered by either generation. The privacy factor relates to those applications which require users to agree to allowing the publisher access to specific areas on their mobiles and or social media profiles. With the low consideration of privacy as an influence to use social media on-the-go, businesses are able to gain knowledge of consumers as the likelihood of being granted access is high across both generations. The focus group identified a trend of the adoption of technology; a majority of participates from both generations agreed that they wouldn’t use a certain new wearable-tech product as it was deemed unnecessary or too expensive. Although interest to other technologies were indicated from a minority of both age groups which was stated to be more interesting, the author recommends further research into wearable technology.

Implications

The author indicates that the main factor to consider when researching the generational gap is the rate of adoption and the unexpected nature of the user. (Correa, Hinsley and Zuniga 2009; Strutton et al. 2011) identify that consumers of both generations differ in the rate of adoption, but overall adopt to social media and social media on-the-go nonetheless. Both study 1 and study 2 confirmed that generation X uses mobile social media just as much as the younger generation whom are considered more technological savvy. The increased adoption of social media amongst generation X is considered an effect of age blurring; this refers to the phenomenon of older consumers adopting to certain trends which would be commonly referred to as a younger persons thing – i.e. social media and social media on-the-go (Euromonitor 2011).

The increasing rate of adoption of new trends forces marketing departments to consider new approaches to advertise and capture the interests of both the younger and older generation. More research is required when targeting an audience of either or both age groups as trends have a habit of changing rapidly, limiting the time frames marketers have between constructing an effective or ineffective mobile social media advertisement. The author emphasises the importance of understanding the rate of adoption and the ability to identify new trends which influences the engagement of social media on-the-go across both generation X and Y.

Access and read full list of sources used in this study.

Access and read conference paper I have presented with my co-author, Dr Elvira Bolat, in Newcastle:

Bolat, E. and Cutler-Smith, H., 2016. Social media ‘on the go’: Examining the impact of age. In: Academy of Marketing, 4-7 July 2016, Newcastle, UK. Link to the paper: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/24443/

Are you Slacktivist?

by Freya Samuelson-Cramp

Helping the world one ‘like’ at a time – The rise of the slacktivist*

* please note these are extracts from conference paper to be submitted as book chapter (details can be found below)

Over the last ten years social media has become a buzzword in all things business, psychology and global change. The Charity and Non-profit sector has adopted social media as one of their core engagement and fundraising tools showing the great power of the online community, however, the extent to which this is benefitting the sector is debateable. Is liking an organisation on Facebook is equal to donating money? A consumer interaction with charities and non-profit businesses by sharing and liking campaigns is based around the notion of ‘Slacktivism’. To date, studies on ‘Slacktivism’ behaviour in the social media context are limited with Rotman et al.’s (2011) study discussing a process framework for slacktivist and activist behaviour on social media, however, with no empirical evidence obtained to illustrate framework. Adopting theories of reasoned actions and planned behavior together with Goldberg’s big five personality factors, this study aims to investigate the motivations and interactions of social media users towards non-profit social media campaigns, with particular interest of studying ‘Slacktivists’. This study reveals no highly significant difference between all supporter types. Slacktivists and activists were found to be the most similar on personality traits and motivations, however slacktivists were less motivated by altruism. Interestingly, the emotional and psychological motive was found to not influence any of the groups in their support towards charities on social media, which differs to research not conducted on social media, suggesting social media facilitates a relationship between supporter and charity which is instantaneous or unemotionally involved and subsequently uncommitted to the cause. On the contrary to existing research (Seidman 2013; Pillai et al. 2015), this study found (1) the subjective norm to have the strongest correlation with slacktivist behavior and, therefore, suggests slacktivists are somewhat influenced by the perceived pressure those around them; (2) neuroticism (low rating on the emotional stability scale) does not influence slacktivism. Moreover, empirical evidences shows that slacktivists are strongly motivated by the familial link and by the emotional and psychological motive. Hence, it is not surprising to see that this study found no relationship between attitudes towards charity-related social media (ATTCH) and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real attitude towards their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to by a peer. Overall this study highlights that when communicating via social media Charity and Non-profit sector deals with diverse categories of audience, hence, objectives and communication tactics should be mapped against each individual category.

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Helping the world one ‘like’ at the time, photographer: Freya Samuelson-Cramp, model: Freya Samuelson-Cramp

Theoretical Background

Over the last ten years social media has become a buzzword in all things business, psychology and global change. Guo and Saxton (2012) claim that social media platforms have paved a way for reaching and mobilising new networks of community actors. These platforms further give a voice to issues that might otherwise have no airtime on traditional media (Lovejoy et al., 2012).The Charity and Non-profit sector has adopted social media as one of their core engagement and fundraising tools showing the great power of the online community due to its vast reach and cost effectiveness (Lawrence, 2013). However, the extent to which this is benefitting the sector is debateable.

Is liking an organisation on Facebook is equal to donating money? Grummas (2014) reports that online supporters are not effectively changing anything but are merely showing tokens of appreciation by liking and sharing online charity-related campaigns. A consumer interaction with charities and non-profit businesses by sharing and liking campaigns is based around the notion of ‘Slacktivism’. ‘Slacktivism’ is defined as “a willingness to perform a relatively costless token display of support for a social cause, with an accompanying lack of willingness to devote significant effort to enact meaningful change” (Kristofferson et al., 2014, p.1149).

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Are You Slacktivist?, photographer: Freya Samuelson-Cramp, model: Freya Samuelson-Cramp

To date, studies on ‘Slacktivism’ behaviour in the social media context are limited with Rotman et al.’s (2011) study discussing a process framework for slacktivist and activist behaviour on social media, however, with no empirical evidence obtained to illustrate framework. Lee and Hsieh (2013) conducted study on online petitions for and against gun possession and found that slacktivist behaviour deters consumers from taking further action as they have already satisfied their altruistic needs, however, no other similar studies were conducted to demonstrate generability of results.

Whether slacktivism is seen in a positive or negative light, it is important to explore and understand the reasons behind the phenomenon so that non-profit organisations can either encourage or discourage this behaviour to their advantage. Adopting theories of reasoned actions and planned behavior together with Goldberg’s big five personality factors, this study aims to investigate the motivations and interactions of social media users towards non-profit social media campaigns, with particular interest of studying slacktivists.

Figure 1 provides full conceptualisation of existing research which will help to study slacktivism behaviour.

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Figure 1. Conceptual framework – Slacktivism

Research method

Self-administered surveys were deemed the most suitable method for collecting data for the research due to ability to delve into what the participant thinks and believes to explain cognitive processes like opinions and behaviours with more validity (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005). This type of survey also accommodates the use of anonymity and confidentiality, which is imperative to the research as questions surrounding charitable support and donations can be quite intrusive in nature. This may have provided the research with more genuine responses from participants as they would not be affected by social desirability bias which can create issues of validity in the results (Fisher, 1993). This was important when exploring participants’ relationships with charity and donations as there is a lot of social pressure around supporting charities (Reyniers and Bhalla, 2013).

Survey was distributed online via Facebook. The research was based on interaction within this platform and, therefore, needed respondents who use this site. The survey was designed using PollDaddy.com as it allowed the use of images, a larger number of questions and range of survey styles compared to other providers. Participants have been accumulated using a combination of two non-probability methods, a convenience and snowballing sampling methods. Overall, 154 usable surveys were completed. Respondents were 34% male and 66% female and 78% aged 18-34 with varied income levels (41% of the sample in the <£10000 income bracket; 18% of the sample in the £20000-30000 income bracket; 31% of the sample in the >£40000 income bracket).

The survey employed the use of a 48-item questionnaire to identify demographics, personality, social media use and constructs based on motivation and processes formulated from the literature reviewed.

Findings

In terms of categorisation by supporter types, overall, 118 participants showed activist behaviours, 92 showed slacktivist behaviours and 53 participants showed non-conformist behaviours. Each supporter type rated very highly across all personality traits, of which there was a high agreement to portraying the openness to experience trait. Drawing from the lack of ‘low’ ratings on personality traits it would appear that participants may have not wanted to portray themselves negatively, however, there was more agreement to the neurotic trait (low emotional stability). Previous studies have claimed neuroticism to be higher in females than males (Goodwin and Gotlib, 2004; Johnson, 2003; Farmer et al., 2002; Lynn and Martin, 1997), which could explain our results, as the sample was predominantly female. Activists rated the highest on emotional stability and extraversion compared to the other supporter types, which would be expected of someone who wanted to be physically involved in altruistic behaviours and partake in fundraising events. Slacktivists were the most open to experiences, agreeable and conscientious, which would suggest they do feel a moral right to help but perhaps are encouraged to act by others requests or from the excitement of doing something new. Non-conformists did not rate higher than the other supporter types on any positive traits however did have the highest percentage of people who were low in conscientiousness and openness to experiences. This is predictable as non-conformists do not partake in supporting charities online, which could be owed to a lack of caring about moral duties and need to be involved.

Comparisons between motivations and supporter types show that all supporter types believed they were not influenced by emotional or psychological motivations to support charities on social media. This could be an effect of the media channel used (social media) or perhaps participants are cynical about emotional or guilt marketing (Cotte at al., 2005). Contrary to our beliefs slacktivists rated higher on altruistic motivations than activists. However, predictably non-conformists disagreed the most to being motivated by altruism. There was little agreement to being demonstrably motivated across all supporter types, especially for non-conformists who gave no agreement. Familial motivations were the strongest influencer of supporting charities on social media which may suggest this type of behaviour is used to create a supportive community for a friend or family or support is often given in honor of a passed relative.

It was found that the demonstrable motive was the only significant variable to impact on attitudes towards social media. The familial motive proved to have the most significant relationship with the attitudes towards charity-related social media. The second most significant motive in impacting attitudes towards charity-related social media campaigns was demonstrable motive.

Finally, we found no significant relationships between attitudes towards charity-related social media campaigns and the slacktivits and activists behavior. Those with activist behaviours were the most influenced group by the attitudes towards charity-related social media campaigns.

Our findings reveal no highly significant difference between all supporter types. Slacktivists and activists were found to be the most similar on personality traits and motivations, however slacktivists were less motivated by altruism. Interestingly, the emotional and psychological motive was found to not influence any of the groups in their support towards charities on social media, which differs to research not conducted on social media, suggesting social media facilitates a relationship between supporter and charity which is instantaneous or unemotionally involved and subsequently uncommitted to the cause. On the contrary to existing research (Seidman, 2013; Pillai et al., 2015), our study found (1) the subjective norm to have the strongest correlation with slacktivist behavior and, therefore, suggests slacktivists are somewhat influenced by the perceived pressure from those around them; (2) neuroticism (low rating on the emotional stability scale) does not influence slacktivism. Moreover, empirical evidence shows that slacktivists are strongly motivated by the familial link and by the emotional and psychological motives. Hence, it is not surprising to see that we found no relationship between attitudes towards charity-related social media and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real attitude towards their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to it by a peer. Overall this study highlights that when communicating via social media Charity and Non-profit sector deals with diverse categories of audience, hence, objectives and communication tactics should be mapped against each individual category.

Drawing from the correspondence analysis results, the majority of those with slacktivist behaviours were found to have the openness to experiences trait (93%). Openness to experiences has been positively correlated to social media use (Correa et al 2010) and so may explain the relationship between slacktivists and social media and why it is their preferred way of supporting charities. Seidman (2013) found high levels of neuroticism amongst those who used Facebook to create an ideal self-image, however, very few slacktivists rated themselves as neurotic (low rating on the emotional stability scale),. This suggests slacktivists do not take part in supporting charities on Facebook because they worry what others think or are trying to create the ‘ideal ‘social media image. Contrary to this, the subjective norm had the strongest correlation with slacktivist behaviour (.234) which suggests slacktivists are, however, influenced by perceived social pressure.

Slacktivists mostly felt motivated by the familial link (36%) and disagreed that they were influenced by emotional and psychological motives (77%). There was no apparent causal link between the demonstrable motive and slacktivists, similar to research by Sargeant et al’s (2006) who found no relationship to the demonstrable motivation in committed giving. Sargeant et al (2006) did find a causal link between emotions and commitment to giving but this study did not uncover a similar link. This raises the question whether it is the difference of support being on social media which prevents it from being motivated by emotional and psychological means, because it is not being used as a tool for committed support. Perhaps the use of social media for supporting causes allows the individual to give quick and momentary support which yields no emotional connection or longevity in their continued support. This may also explain why there was no significant relationship between attitudes towards charity related campaigns and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real interest in their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to by a peer.

For activists (69%) and slacktivists (68%) alike, emotional stability was the least recognised personality trait, which may mean they are more affected by their emotions than non- conformists. Activists were also most likely to have extrovert personalities, and such personalities use social media to present their ‘real’ self rather than an “ideal” self (Michikyan et al 2014). Extrovert activists appear more likely to support causes they really connect with offline and online, whereas slacktivists (who rated lower on the extraversion scale) may give more thought to engage with causes to improve their image.

It is unsurprising that all supporter types rated as extroverts and most highly open to experiences as these traits are both positively linked with social media use (Correa et al 2010). Agreeableness has been consistently linked to altruistic and pro social behaviour (Caprara et al 2010, Corr et al 2015) and has been further supported by this research. Agreeableness appeared to be the most prominent in slacktivists rather than activists, and this is relevant as it involves being compliant with requests from others (Carlo et al 2005). Sharing posts and becoming involved in viral campaigns such as the Ice Bucket challenge are behaviours that depend on such compliance. The subjective norm plays a part in defining each supporter type.

Moreover, the research also found differences in motivations between all cohorts studied. Like slacktivists, both activists and non-conformists disagreed most to being influenced by the emotional and psychological motivations. This adds further support for suggesting whether it is social media which disengages the user emotionally (highlighted in objective 3) and thus is not a motivator in supporting charities on this platform.

Implications

Drawing from the research and past literature, it is clear that slacktivists can still be valuable supporters and perhaps should be nurtured in the hope that they may give more tangible support in the future. It could be possible that slacktivists are only be held back by a lack of time, money or effort and charities should still aim to build relationships with these supporters so they remembered when these resources become available. The findings suggest to increase the effectiveness of social media campaigns charities should refrain from using emotional tactics but perhaps focus on the notion of supporting a friend or family through posts and videos. As technology and its consumers evolve it is important for charities to evolve also to remain connected and relevant in today’s society.

Further information

This study was accepted for presentation and publication in Proceedings for 5th International Conference on CSR (iCSR). Conference took place on 6-7 October 2016 in Bocconi University (Milan, Italy). Paper titled ‘Helping the world one ‘like’ at a time – the rise of slackticist!’ was co-authored with Dr Elvira Bolat. See presentation slides below. Full paper is now under review to be accepted for inclusion as book chapter as part of iCSR 2016 collection of best papers.

Are you Digitally Addicted?

by Dr Raian Ali

*Please note that this post contains extracts from other blog posts, links to which are provided.

“We defined digital addiction as the obsessive and excessive usage of digital media which could be associated with negative life experiences such as distraction, anxiety and preoccupation. Pokémon Go is special in making people immersed not only using creative and playful online techniques and virtual reality but also in using the power of the physical real space itself.

Pokémon Go would not be called an augmented reality game, which is the popular description of it, but rather augmenting the cyber space with elements from reality. We are now witnessing an era where the cyber space is starting to take the lead and, indeed, host our physical space.

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Pokémon Go: Are You Addicted?, photographer: Mahmut Bolat, models: Boscombe Pier visitors

We advocate the need for bespoke legislation or at least tests with regard to the manipulation power and the responsibility of certain technology such as games and social networks to make, even indirectly, people immersed, lose control and make decisions under the effect of irresistible urge.A Pokémon Go gamer may feel the urge to visit unknown and dangerous places aiming to catch Pokémon. Technically we can detect that easily, but would the game send a warning? Would the place put a warning? Would the party governing a place be able to communicate messages to players in its physical area?

In our research at Bournemouth University, we have already advocated the need to consider that care about users is a social responsibility of technology developers.

We proposed the use of interactive and intelligent labels and warning messages to keep people informed about their technology usage and make them able to take an informed decision. This could include using timers and progress bars to show the time spent using technology or sending recommendations like switching off the phone while sleeping if activity is detected.

Full text can be accessed via: https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/news/2016-07-27/pok-mon-go-combatting-new-cyber-physical-addiction

Overall, here at Bournemouth University we study Digital addiction (DA) as an emergent research area and explore a problematic usage of digital media described by being obsessive, excessive, compulsive, impulsive and hasty. We particularly focus on aiding people adjust their usage style through the use of digital technology itself.

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Digital Addiction, photographer: Bournemouth University MarketingComms team

Read more about digital addiction research in the Telegraph and Huffington Post and La Stampa.

BU Digital Addiction research news can be followed on Twitter @bu_esotics

Read published research by the team: