Page 1

Thesis by Belfug Sener MFA Integrated Design Advisor Maria Luisa Rossi College for Creative Studies

May 2018

squad Helping iGen to be more conscious about the use of Social Media


ABSTRACT Spending excessive amounts of time using social media leads to negative effects and interferes with the other aspects of people’s lives. As with any other addiction, breaking away from social media and keeping life in balance is so difficult especially for the iGen who grew up in an entirely post-digital era. The aim of this thesis is to create a provisional period to help iGen be more conscious about the negative effects and risks of social media addiction while enhancing creativity and thinking skills towards social issues by collaboration with peers to change the expectations of iGen from the social media channels that they will engage with after this period. As a result, children would become better communicators with more thoughtful, conscious, and empathic approach by being active social thinkers using social media as a meaningful channel.


1. BACKGROUND a. Social media b. Addiction c. Social media addiction 2. SECONDARY RESEARCH a. Risk factors of social media addiction b. Negative impacts of social media addiction c. Target group d. Current attempts to answer the problem of social media addiction 3. PRIMARY RESEARCH a. Instagram poll b. Interviews c. Focus group d. Insights from primary research e. Learning outcomes 4. INTRODUCTION TO DESIGN SOLUTION a. Motivation b. Main elements c. Target group d. Channel 5. ‘SQUAD’ APPLICATION DESIGN a. Squad Application b. How it works c. Interviews and AB testing of visuals d. UI Design

a. Social Media i. Definition of social media According to the Oxford Dictionary of English ‘social media’ means websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Social media is growing at an

explosive rate, with millions of people all over the world generating and sharing content on a scale barely imaginable a few years ago (Asur et al. 434). There are 2 billion worldwide social network users, 500 million tweets sent and 70 million images uploaded on Instagram everyday (Lewis). Users generally access social media platforms via web-based technologies from computers and laptops or via application services from their mobile phones and tablets. By a certain amount of engagement, users become practically involved in interactive platforms with other individuals, communities or organizations. Social media has become the easiest and the most popular option for people to create share and post their content including discussions and modifications with the help of communication with other people.

ii. Types of social media There are thousands of social media platforms and applications with different purposes, functions and target groups. Social media platforms had been classified differently by each organization according to their use and primary function. According to the DelValle Institute, social media platforms are divided into five different categories.

1. Social Networking Platforms: These are the platforms to find friends or share similar interests with other people by enabling connection and informal communication with groups, communities, networks or locations. Facebook and LinkedIn could be given examples to this category of social media platforms. 2. Microblogging Platforms: These are the platforms which enable posting short entries, contents or updates by allowing users to create hashtags, to share content about related subjects, to follow other users and to communicate directly or publicly. Twitter and Tumblr could be given examples to this category of social media platforms. 3. Blogging Platforms: These are the platforms which enable users to record opinions, stories, articles or any other materials related to specific content and post them on common or personal websites. Blogger and Wordpress could be given as examples to this category. 1

4. Photo & Video Sharing Platforms: These are the platforms which enable users to edit and publish digital photos and videos either publicly or privately. Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat could be given as examples to this category. 5. Crowdsourcing Platforms: These are the platforms which enable users to obtain needed services, ideas or content by soliciting contributions from different groups of people including individuals, communities, and organizations. Ushadidi and Kickstarter could be given as examples to this category. It is proven that some platforms are used for social networking including communication via video chats or message platforms in addition to their primary purpose.

Even if these platforms had been designed genuinely according to their distinctive purposes, it is difficult to control users’ behavior to engage with them. For example, Instagram has been designed to share digital photos, but right now it also is used by people as blogging or social networking platform. Moreover, for some of the platforms, the aim has been shifted from social networking to business integration including clients, customers, and leads by the contribution of marketing and the current technology.

iii. Social media trends 1. Social media applications Even the market is so competitive for social media platforms there are few leaders which shape the behavior of the users and the social networking trends constantly. Moreover, these social media platforms are going to grow even bigger as more and more people adopt them into their everyday lives.

• Facebook: It is the number one social networking site that enables connection and online sharing with families and friends. It was originally designed for college students in 2004, but currently, it is the world’s most extensive social network with more than 1 billion users worldwide (Goodwill Community Foundation). Having a Facebook account is as common as having a personal email address. For the last decade, it became so popular and acceptable that people use the term ‘facebook’ as a verb in their daily life which refers to spending time using the social networking website Facebook. It helps people to keep in touch by sending messages, updating status, posting contents and liking other people’s contents. Even if it can be limited by the privacy options, Facebook has been designed to be more open and social than traditional communication tools. It has features such as exclusive groups, events, live streams, and messenger. To keep its unique position on the market, Facebook has collaborated with other platforms such as Instagram. Each 2

Currently one of the agenda item in world is #MeToo campaign as a reaction of sexual assault and harassment goes viral all around the world, thanks to social media.

generation has created its own purpose of using Facebook. Even if there are numbers of discussions claiming that Facebook is losing its popularity and its appeal to users especially for the teenagers, statistics from different resources still prove that Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide with 2.07 billion monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2017 (Statista). • Instagram: It is a social networking application which is designed for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. Everyone has their own profile where is the combination of photos that they posted before. It can be said that Instagram is the more simplified version of Facebook with a particular emphasis on mobile use and visual sharing. Hash-tagging, commenting, liking, tagging, applying filters and private messaging are the main features of Instagram whereas it has added on new features such as personal 24-hour story, commercials and live stream. Even if the first intent to use Instagram is sharing visuals; naturally it has become a platform for social networks, businesses, and commercials. • Snapchat: It is a social networking application which enables sharing pictures and videos that self-destruct right after a few seconds. It is different from competitor applications since other people cannot save or review the instant visuals that are shared by the users unless they use the screenshot feature (user is notified 3

if someone captures her post via screenshot).

According to Statista, Snapchat is the most popular

networking site among teenagers and young adults in the United States as of February 2017 followed by Facebook. 79% of responding internet users aged between 13 and 24 use Snapchat followed by Facebook use at 76% , and Instagram use with a 73% share. • Twitter: It is a social networking tool that enables users to post tweets with 140 character limitation. The aim of these daily burst tweets could be useful and interesting data sharing. The purpose of the character limitation is to promote focused and smart language with a brief content. This unique personal-rapid broadcaster empowers users to stand behind their opinions related to different content. Eventually, Twitter had become increasingly popular for marketing, news sharing, and even politics. • Musically: It has become popular recently among the Genz. It is based on performance and live streams related with performance based skills such as music, video, and dance.

2. Viral content The social media industry is one of the biggest industries in the world which enables companies to add new features to their applications day by day. There are some trend features which have shaped the current sector within the potential of viral content by attracting more people to use social media. Current market includes numbers of applications with the same trend features which will eventually make them inauthentic.

• Filters on social media: Artificial facial filters were first introduced to the public as an interactive and unique way of interaction by Snapchat and expanded to other applications since they became a best-selling feature. Currently, Facebook and Instagram also have this feature to form a sense of community where everyone can use the same type of filters all around the world. Moreover, photo filters became the first base of social media applications when almost everyone prefers to post their pictures with the help of filters. • Hashtags on social media: Hashtag means a keyword or a phrase which is preceded by the hash symbol with words from different content when included with their posts. The purpose of the hashtag is to create a collection of content which is accessible to everyone with same goal or interest (Pang). Hashtags are the easiest way to create a content portfolio with an aim to become viral in a short time. Trending hashtags are used for public’s reaction, criticism or awareness. Hashtags also help people to promote their business since they are accessible to the target who are looking for a specific content related to product, service or a brand. If the purpose of hashtags is understood clearly, it helps people to engage in a more accessible way. Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are the applications which use the power of hashtags for their audience. 4

• Short video stories and expiring content: This type of material means posting a visual which lasts only a short period. This feature has been introduced to the market by Snapchat, and currently, leaders such as Facebook and Instagram are using exactly the same feature to attract more users to their platforms. Visual stories last 24-hours from the time of initial post. This limited time of visibility has been used by influencers, celebrities or other people frequently to arouse interest from more people. • Live video streams: Live video streams empower users to create more authentic, realistic and unfiltered content. One of the beneficial uses of this feature could be live streams related to the content of ongoing events or specific activities to inform viewers continually and freshly. Another advantageous use of this feature could be ‘questions and answers’ session of live streams which encourage viewers and the person streaming the video to interact in real time by using the sense of community. • Social messaging: Social messaging has been integrated to social media platforms since people prefer to interact via social media platforms. Almost every application has included chatbot to create a better environment for conversation since people prefer to communicate via social media rather than physical interactions. • Augmented reality: Augmented reality was first introduced to social media via artificial facial filters in a most fundamental way. However, it is a fact that there is more potential to discover and engage social media with augmented reality. For instance, Facebook has confirmed recently that they started experimenting with augmented reality (Lynley).

3. Mobile Use The use of social media has been shifted from computers or laptops to the mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. As a result, companies started to provide more location-based services for the customers’ convenience. ‘’Digital in 2017’', a report of social media and digital trends around the world, has released that mobile social media use has increased by 30% in only one year to surpass 2.5 billion users globally, with 91% of social media users accessing social media from mobile devices. As a trend, social media focuses on users who prefer mobile-first or mobile-only as a daily interaction.

4. Business Use Social media has emerged new business opportunities in the market especially for branding since it is a brand new way to connect with customers and promote both personal or organizational businesses with everyone. It has been used to promote new products or services, build brand awareness, interact with existing 5

or potential customers and measure referrals from customers’ social media activities to sales. Companies are investing their marketing mostly in social media since they gain valuable real-time insights from the loyal customers. According to a study, ‘’The Social Habit’’ 53% of Americans are more loyal to the brands which they follow on social media. It is also the most convenient way to check what competitors are doing as a strategy. This trend has resulted in brand new job opportunities in the market such as social media strategist, social media evaluator, and social media influencer. As a result, focus on social media as a business and marketing strategy will grow more and more throughout the years to be more successful in the current market.

iv. Benefits of social media For the last decade, social media had changed the way that people communicate, do business or receive information. If social media is used deliberately, people will benefit from its facilitative features.

• Communication: Precisely from the perspective of intercommunication, social media makes people’s lives easier by enabling instant connection and communication with anyone all around the world. Social media has brought a brand new way to find people with common interests and build relationships in a short amount of time. Compared with the previous forms of communication, social media is the easiest and the most time-saving method for people. • Society: By enabling connections all around the world, social media helps people to be more aware of the global surroundings, empathic and cosmopolitan. From the perspective of information delivery, by enabling real-time news and information discovery, social media increases the knowledge and awareness level of the society. Moreover, according to the Young and Well Cooperative Research Center, social media helps young people to be more social participants and active citizens. Using social media increases the number of people as content creators, managers, and distributors. • Business: From the perspective of business opportunities, social media is the easiest way to start, promote and grow a small business for the start-up companies or individual companies. Besides, for professional networking, social media helps people to reach out to other professionals from the same field in a more accessible way. • Politics: Social media has changed the way that campaigns run, related to the politics since it enables direct contact and instant feedback from the voters. Campaigns could go viral on social media and it could empower people especially the young generation to get involved in the discussion and pick their sides. 6

Kayla Itsines is a personal trainer and entrepreneur is an example of benefits of social media. She is promoting healthy lifestyle including exercise and food. She uses social media for business and affects the society’s in a better way.

v. Negative e!ects of social media Social media has integrated and profoundly changed everyone’s daily lives. It has significantly impacted behaviors and lifestyles in both positive and negative ways.

If social media is not used consciously and

deliberately, individuals and society would be affected more negatively in long-term ways instead of taking advantage of its benefits.

• Communication: While enabling the easiest and the fastest way of communication in a brand new way, social media limits face-to-face interaction between individuals. Since social media is an impersonal way to communicate, people would lose their ability to understand non-verbal cues or gestures when they have physical and personal communication with other people. This could result in deterioration of social communication skills. Moreover, social media enables an informal way of communication to people whereas 7

Kylie Jenner is a social media phenomenon, could be given as an example of negative effects of social media. She promotes her fake-performance based physical appearance and her followers tend to imitate her lifestyle.

spelling and pronunciation is not considered as a problem. This could result in challenges for adaptation to the formal conversation when people have to articulate themselves properly. Also, spending more time on social media may encourage people to prefer virtual relationships and create anti-social behavior among others. Last but not least, social media as a way of communication could affect the quality of family structure and the relationships. Relationship applications like Tinder encourage people not to make an emotional commitment but to be more sexually active in their personal lives which results in more individualistic lifestyle in long terms. • Society: Social media has brought some problems related to insecurity since everyone shares excessive amounts of information and compares themselves with other people. Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council as ‘the process of using internet, cell phones or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person’ (USLegal) Virtual communication is the most convenient way to harass other people in the society which has resulted in huge amounts of 8

cyberbullying issues. Moreover, social media has changed the way that people reach out for information and people could feel overwhelmed by the uncontrollable amounts and various content of information shared with them. Validation and accuracy of the information delivered to society are not controllable which may mislead and confuse people. Moreover, people lost control of keeping their personal information private in social media that has resulted in some privacy problems. People tend to procrastinate more than before since social media engagement is integrated into their daily lives. This could affect the efficiency level of whole society. Lastly, people aspire to look or live like social media influencers or celebrities that they follow on social media. They try to imitate celebrities’ extreme lifestyles or appearance. Eventually, the perception of social validation has expanded in the society. • Politics: Social media could ruin politics since the validation of the analytics and the delivery of the information is not controlled easily. Feedback from social media users might be controversial and could affect the future of countries in a dramatic way.

b. Addiction

i. Definition of addiction ‘Addiction’ means impulsive or compulsive behaviors which eventually generate harmful habits leading to negative effects and interventions of daily life activities in long-term (Alter). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a diagnostic manual containing descriptions and symptoms of all mental disorders classified by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and is used by clinicians. In the latest version of DSM-5, ‘addiction’ is still not accepted as a specific type of diagnosis. In the manual, there are three types of addiction accepted as a subcategory of mental disorders.

ii. Types of addiction 1. Substance Use Disorder Substance use disorder means a chronic and reverting disorder which is characterized by compulsive drug use resulting in harmful impacts. It is also accepted as a brain disease since the compulsive use of substances changes the brain structure and working mechanism permanently (National Institute of Drug Abuse). Nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are some examples that are accepted as substances for this type of addiction. 9

2. Disruptive, Impulse Control and Conduct Disorder On the latest version of DSM-5, this type of disorder includes kleptomania, pyromania, intermittent explosive disorder, conduct disorder, antisocial personality and oppositional defiant disorder as subcategories. The common feature of all these subcategories is interfering with person’s ability to function in daily life as they all include challenges with controlling impulses and harmful behavior. 3. Behavioral addictions Behavioral addiction involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding system with non-substance related behavior which eventually associates with the same set of neural adaptations in the brain. Gambling, sex, internet, shopping, and eating are considered as types of behavioral addiction by different resources (Potenza). However, on the latest version of DSM-5 only gambling is regarded as a new category of nonsubstance related disorders. This is evidence that research findings and current data for gambling disorder are incredibly similar to substance-related disorders in many ways.

iii. Neurobiological mechanisms of addiction There are three major components of the neurobiological cycle of addiction (Koob and Moal): 1. Preoccupation-anticipation means constant cravings and overwhelming urges to continue habit which might result in irritability, agitation, fatigue, and depression. 2. The binge-intoxication component is reflected by activation of dopaminergic and opioid peptide systems. Almost all types of substances trigger the brain’s reward system by flooding in the circuit with dopamine directly or indirectly. Over-excitation of this rewarding system teaches addicted people to repeat their natural behavior by producing euphoric effects. If addiction is frequent, people need more to experience the same feeling. This results in desensitization and increases the risk of overdose for the substance disorders (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). 3. Withdrawal-negative a!ect component is dominated by decreases in dopamine and opioid peptide function and increases in brain stress systems. When people stop using addictive substances that control their behaviors, they experience these symptoms as an adverse effects (Martin).

iv. Stages of addiction 1. Initiation & experiment There are some drivers that explain why people tend to experience drugs or tend to have some addictive behaviors (National Institute on Drug Abuse). 10

• Pleasure: People would like to feel good by the pleasure and ‘highness’ with different types of addictions. • Performance: People would prefer substances or behavioral addictions to improve their performance. • Curiosity: People would be only curious about the experience and they might have peer pressure to experience the mood. • Loneliness & Stress: People would be lonely, feel isolated or beaten down by life and tend to want something that gives them sense of relief.

2. Problem & dependence According to the DSM, there are four major categories which are associated with addiction-related disorders: impaired control, social impairment, risky use and pharmacological criteria including tolerance and withdrawal (APA). If the behaviors and the symptoms are associated with these categories, it means that people have a problem with addiction. • The impaired control means a craving or strong urge to use the substance and failed attempts to control or cut down the addiction problem. • Social problems mean these addictions could cause failure to complete primary tasks in daily lives including work, school, social and home activities. • Risky use means addiction is at risky levels and settings when it is continued despite the current problems. • Pharmacological criteria mean tolerance (need for more to have the same effect) and withdrawal symptoms.

3. Diagnosis and treatment When different types of physical or behavioral addiction have negative consequences on the individual’s physical or mental health, the situation is diagnosed with an addiction. If the individual does not accept his addiction problem, he will refuse to change his behavior. This denial is accepted as one of the common symptoms during the diagnosis process. For the treatment process, there are some alternatives such as detox support therapies, group therapies and family support to overcome the withdrawal challenges and remain abstinent. The most common feature of these alternative treatments is to help people to re-bond and reconnect to environment and people as a support.


*Rat Park Experiment In the 20th century, there had been many experiments about drug consumption as an addiction. In one of these experiments scientists put one rat into a cage (which was called Skinner box) and served two different water sources: pure water and water with a heroin. Almost all of the rats preferred to drink the water with a heroin that seemed to prove that different types of drugs were irresistibly addictive for animals and humans. However, in 1970’s, experimental psychologist Bruce K. Alexander had realized that the rat which was put into Skinner box was alone all the time and this ‘solitary confinement’ might have encouraged rats to prefer drug water and be addicted. Because when he researched rats in nature, he realized that they are highly social, sexual and industrious creatures in nature, just as human beings. Then, Alexander constructed ‘Rat Park' with wheels and balls for play, plenty of food and mating space, and 16-20 rats from both sexes. He wanted to verify that the environment played the largest role whether a rat became addicted or not. None of the rats had chosen to drink water with heroin since they were not lonely and depressed anymore. This experiment was reflected through research with Vietnam War veterans. During the Vietnam War, 20% of soldiers used heroin since they were alone, forced to fight and kill their enemies in a terrifying environment. Interestingly, when they were returned to their countries after the war, 95% of the drug-addicted soldiers just stopped their addiction habit without any treatment or rehabilitation (Spiegel). The reason was that they came back together with their friends, families and their loved ones and they did not need to use drugs anymore. These two examples were proof of ‘human nature’ which means human beings have an innate need to bond and connect. When people are happy and healthy, they bond with other people around them whereas when they feel isolated, lonely beaten by life, they bond with something else - an addiction that gives the same sense of relief. The main step to overcome addiction could be a ‘real connection’ & ‘support.’

c. Social media addiction

i. Definition of social media addiction As social validation is a vital part of being human, social media became the primary tool that makes people feel appreciated through different platforms. People compare themselves with each other through social media to appraise their feelings, abilities or strengths. The received “instant gratification” is addictive, and could create similar behaviors as other addictive behaviors, such as smoking, drug abuse or gambling (Alter). Spending excessive amounts of time using social media leads to adverse effects and interferes with the other 12

aspects of people’s lives. The negative effects of social media emerged the term ‘social media addiction’ as a new type of addiction. Social media addiction was defined differently by various resources. The terms Compulsive Internet Use (CIU), Internet Overuse, Problematic Internet Use (PIU) and Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) included ‘social networking’ as a part of ‘internet addiction’ problem (Moreno, et al. , Meerkerk et al.). These terms not only include social media but also consider gaming, internet pornography, and internet shopping as a category of ‘internet addiction’ problem. The terms Social Media Dependency Disorder, Social Networking Addiction (SNAD) specifically focused on addiction to social media (Bertrand, Griffiths). All the terms mentioned above are the current attempts to prove the problem of 'social media addiction' clinically. (For this thesis research ‘video gaming’ and 'computer use’ will not be a focal point since the determinants and the insights are materially different than ‘social media addiction.' Video Game Disorder (VGD), Pathological computer use (PCU), Internet Game Disorder (IGD) are the terms that are used to define the problem of video gaming specifically.) Dr. Ofir Turel and Dr. Alexander Serenko figured the formation of social media addiction in three different models: cognitive behavioral model, social skill model, and sociocognitive model.

Even if it is proven by the various resources of research that ‘social media addiction’ has effects changing the brain circuitry and social impairment, it has not been accepted as a type of addiction by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) yet. For many types of behavioral addiction, there has been debate whether these extreme behaviors should even be considered as genuine addictions or not (sex, exercise, video gaming, shopping, etc.) and the same debate holds for the ‘social media addiction’ (Griffiths, 1). One of the reasons for this everlasting debate is that to define the ‘fineline’ between normal behavior and addictive behavior is extremely difficult. Secondly, it was mentioned that there is insufficient peer-reviewed evidence to establish the diagnostic criteria and course descriptions needed to identify these behaviors as mental health disorders (American Psychiatric Association). Since ‘social media addiction’ has emerged as a phenomenon only for the last decade, there is a lack

of evidence and victims related to this addiction.

Moreover the criteria of ‘social media addiction’ has to be defined clearly to identify what does problematic use mean and what it does not mean.

ii. Similarities with other types of addiction There are many similarities between social media addiction and other forms of addiction. Social media addiction has become a phenomenon when its negative effects on mental health and relationships could be 13

stronger than other types of addictions. Recording the cravings of several hundred people for several weeks, researchers from Chicago University concluded that social media addiction could be stronger than addiction to cigarettes and booze (Meikle). The study was conducted with 205 people aged between 18 and 85 by checking their desires and impulses to different types of activities and addictions. People’s urge to check on social media was remarkably higher than to smoke cigarettes and drink booze. Besides, University of Albany conducted that social media addiction may be associated with other impulse control disorders and drinking problems (Hormes).

It is claimed that symptoms of social media addiction can be identified with the criteria used to diagnose other chemical or non-chemical addictions (Echeburua and Corral, 95). At the same time, these researchers have been trying to link cognitive behaviors and the stages of social media addiction with other types addiction. Exhibiting the behavior of checking social media after a strong desire reduces the anxiety level of people and results in a ‘high’ and a positive mood, as in substance addiction (Woods and Scott). On the other hand, social media addiction, like other behavioral addictions, occurs when it is viewed by the individual as a specific mechanism to relieve stress, loneliness, and depression.

The researchers from Harvard University proved both behavioral and neural evidence that online selfdisclosure is intrinsically rewarding (Tamir and Mitchell). The ‘pleasure’ parts of human brains, known as the nucleus accumbens, are supposed to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine any time people do something associated with ‘survival.' In nature ‘survival’ links with ‘sensation of pleasure‘

basically when

eating food, having sex or receiving money. During the experiment, researchers concluded that online selfdisclosure and self-relevant feedback activated nucleus accumbens and this region of the brain is extremely important for the development of addictions in human behavior. MRA data proved that social media fires up the same part of the brain when taking cocaine. Besides its similarities with other types of addictions, social media addiction would become a more serious issue in future and break-away from social media could be more difficult than other types of addictions. The reason is that social media addiction is one of the socially accepted behaviors in society since internet and technological tools are inseparable parts of today’s culture unlike other behavioral addictions and substance addictions.



a. Risk factors of social media addiction Based on research, 37% of the world’s population and 70% of the US population engages actively via social media with various purposes. In the US, social media addiction is affected by the demographics such as age, gender, income, and education. Genetic, technological and environmental factors also affect the rates of social media use. Most of all, various psychological factors trigger the problematic use of social media.

i. Age Age has an inverse relationship with frequency and amount of social media use. Younger generation tends to use more social media compared with older generations. According to the Pew Research Center’s study, 72% of adults use social media whereas 95% teenagers use social media actively. It is difficult to change the human behavior when people get older. Since social media has become ubiquitous for the last decade, the younger generation who grew up or were born with social media era naturally tends to be more addicted to social media.

ii. Gender Gender has the same effect on each generation. Female members of each generation are more likely to be addicted to social media and be more active in social engagement compared with male members. One of the reasons is those female members are more interested in socializing and gratification. Secondly, females are more obsessive about appearance and self-image. Social media gives them the power to modify their appearance and compare themselves with others.

iii. Genetic factors According to the recent study by Kent State University, genetics has more impact than environment on social media addiction. The study had compared identical and non-identical twins’ social media use including different environmental factors. Findings show that two-thirds of an individual’s behavior is linked to genetic traits whereas only one-third is affected by the environmental factors. Genetic variations in DNA, significantly influence how people interact with the social media, according to their needs. In other words, social media addiction could be hereditary (Pesce).

iv. Technological factors Technology is designed to be addictive, and companies tend to keep people hooked by spending more time on products or services. Adam Alter, an author of Irresistible, claims that human being is biologically prone to get hooked on experiences which give them enjoy in the short term that undermine the health and wellbeing in the long term. Tech companies design their products or services with an aim to encourage people to spend


more time on engaging with them which eventually result in compulsive behavior as an addiction. There is no ethics to control this harmful attitude from companies toward human behavior.

v. Environmental factors Social media use is affected by t h e s u r ro u n d i n g s a n d t h e environment. Culture, location, people around the individual and the technology affect the problem of social media addiction since it is used as a way to interact with the world a ro u n d u s . E n v i ro n m e n t a l factors and social rules affect the drivers and the motivations for using social media more and more. People use social media more to identify or expose The hook canvas which is designed by Nir Eyal the author of Hooked- How to build habit

themselves when they have to

building products explains the cycle of mechanism as a reason why people get hooked to

change their environment.

technology and social media.

vi. Psychological factors 1. Self-disclosure & instant gratification Studies show that around 30-40% of daily human conversation is based on delivering personal experience information to others. Thanks to social media, the percentage has increased up to 80%, which is clear evidence that social media is used mainly for online self-disclosure. As it is mentioned, online self-disclosure is intrinsically rewarding for our brain mechanism and it eventually results in addictive behaviors. This disclosure is supported by emotional rewarding as likes or comments from other people since social validation is one of the essential parts of human beings.


2. Comparison and self-esteem People use social media to be appraised by showing their strengths, abilities or feelings. For this purpose, they naturally compare themselves with other people. Virtual bonds through social media help them to reaffirm the reality and feel better. Moreover, social media interactions let people present the ‘selves as they want to be.' They can edit, retouch or delete the faces, the voices or even the bodies. For constant positive mood, people become addicted to social media and post more frequently to increase their virtual selfesteem. 3. Fear of missing out - FOMO According to the Urban Dictionary Fear Of Missing Out means - FOMO ‘a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.' Since this term is highly connected with technology and social media, the dictionary has another definition which is ‘ a form of social anxiety - a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites. If human brain notices when other people are doing something excludes the individual, it triggers some primitive survival responses (Rutledge). For social media era, one of the survival response could be an addiction to social media. 67% of social media users under 30 years old admit that they have a fear of missing out unless they use social media actively. People feel obliged to check their social media accounts frequently to stay in touch with their friends and be 24-hour available for so-called ‘connection.' Ironically, studies show that people who spend more time on social media, feel socially more isolated than the others who do not (Vedantam). The reason behind this fact could be ‘disconnection’ between real life and online life.

b. Negative impacts of social media addiction Sociologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists have been searching about the negative effects of social media addiction and warning people about the health risks they might face in the future. Social media addiction could lead to permanent negative effects on people’s - especially young generation’s, mental health and physical health. Moreover, social media addiction could eventually affect family structure, relationships and the way of communication with other people.

i. Mental health Social media interaction changed human behavior permanently. Today, people are checking their social media constantly, which eventually disrupts their everyday life. Social media addiction as other types of addictions, was associated with several serious mental health problems that affect the well-being of human 17

being. All of these mental health problems are highly connected with each other. Each problem could be a trigger, symptom or a sequence of another problem. 1. Anxiety • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, and almost 1/3 of people are affected by anxiety. • American College Health Association found a significant increase from 41 percent to 62 percent of undergraduate students’ report ‘overwhelming anxiety’ in only one year which is affected by the problem of social media addiction. • Stephanie Even, a psychiatrist and the regional medical director of Rogers Behavioral Health claims that social media addiction is the common source of different types of worry among highly anxious kids. 2. Depression • Computers in Human Behavior, an online study, found that the use of multiple social media platforms is highly linked with depression among young people (Zagorski). People who check social media more frequently have 2.7 times more the likelihood of depression. • In the United States, there was a 60% rise in the teenage depression between 2010 and 2016. 3. Emotional stress and low self-esteem • One-fifth of Americans identify the excessive use of technology and social media as a fundamental source of emotional stress. • 95% of teenagers using social media who have witnessed different forms of cyberbullying on social networking sites claim that cyberbullying increases their levels of emotional stress.

As a well known case, Amanda Todd spoke out about her cyberbullying experience through social media and created awareness.


4. Social phobia, loneliness, and envy • Researchers assert that engaging in social media frequently resulted in reduced socializing skills in real life (Xu and Tan). People who spend their two hours a day on social media, tend to be socially isolated two times more than others. On the other hand, people who feel socially isolated in their real life tend to go more online on social media compared with the ones who do not feel socially isolated (Hobson). • Kevin Ashworth who is the Clinical Director of Anxiety Institute in Portland, claims that teens prefer to go to places only if they feel that they know everything that is going to happen or everyone who is going to be there. This is clear evidence that early engagement with social media aroused problem social phobia and insecurity among your generation • Recent studies also show that excessive use of social media triggers the feeling of jealousy (Walton). • According to the study of Kaspersky Lab, 42% of active social media users admit that they feel jealous when someone’s posts receive more than their current post. 5. ADHD • The new generation has an average attention span of eight seconds since they were born in a world of instant answers and limitless options. • Multitasking and constant checks, which are some of the characteristics of social media use, are highly associated with poorer attention could eventually result in ADHD. 6. Impostor syndrome • Imposter syndrome means the experience and feeling of person’s achievements are underserved and that he is tended to be exposed as a fraud. This term is highly connected with social media addiction and social anxiety (Ehmke). Integration of technological advancements with our daily lives, societal pressures, and social media comparisons affect the rise of this problem. • According to the research, 70% of young generation has experienced impostor syndrome. • 62% of young generation reported that social media websites make them feel inadequate about their own lives and achievements (Carter). 7. Sadness • One study shows that engaging with social media platforms is highly associated with less happiness and less life satisfaction. Teenagers who spend more time on social media and screen time activities tend to be unhappy (Twenge,77).


• According to the Center for Generational Kinetics’ study, 42 % of the young people feel that social media has a direct impact on how they think about themselves. Moreover, 37 % of them say that social media has a direct impact on their happiness (Dorsey,15). 8. Hostility • Excessive use of social media results in violence and hostility and it encourages more aggressive behaviors including cyberbullying as a growing concern in the U.S. • The social media environment is eligible for bullying or harassment whereas people either become a victim or an assailant. According to Cyberbullying Research Center, 34% of teenagers have been cyberbullied at least one time in their lives. 9. Self-harm and suicide • Recent studies show that there is a rise in both teen suicides and self-harm, especially among teenage girls. There are various triggers including social media addiction that increase the rate of suicide and self-harm (Chuck). • The numbers of young generation admitted to hospital for cutting themselves, poisoning or overdosing on pills has increased by 14% in only two years (Borland). • 48% prevalence of suicide-related thoughts or actions among kids who use electronic devices more than five hours a day (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).


ii. Physical health Social media addiction changed the nature of human behavior since mobile phones are the first and the last communication tool that people interact with everyday. The human body cannot adapt itself to excessive use of social media and mobile devices since human biology is naturally designed for physical interactions, not virtual interactions. Social media addiction emerged new problems related to physical health.

1. Sleeping deprivation and fatigue • According to the study, 66% of people have difficulty sleeping after using social media. • Studies show that 1 in 5 young people regularly wake up in the night to check their social media accounts, and eventually they feel three times more likely to feel constantly tired at school (Power, Taylor and Horton). • Dr. Patricia Bratt, a therapist and psychoanalyst, claims that social media created a new sense of impulsivity which makes people feel overwhelmed. These factors affect sleeping habits of social media users and result in fatigue. Young people who check their accounts consistently day and night, complain about being tired (Ervolino). 2. Eye strain and neck-back strain • For the last two decades, the term ‘digital eye strain’ emerged since technology become an inseparable part of social life. According to the Vision Council’s survey 80% of Americans who suffer from ‘digital eye strain’ check their devices regularly including looking at social media on their smartphone. • ‘Tech neck' is a new term defined by North American Spine Society, related to the upper back pain which occurs by the poor posture when using mobile phones. People spend 80% of their social media time on mobile phones and this eventually results in posture problems including neck and back. 3. Carpal tunnel syndrome • According to CNN Health, smartphone users reported that they experienced numbness and soreness both in their hands and wrists after texting a certain amount of time. • Dr. Sanjeev Kakar, an orthopedic surgeon, claims that spending excessive amounts of time using mobile phones and social media could possibly result in hand problems such as tendinitis, arthritis, repetitive strain injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.

iii. Relationships In the previous decade, the social media was a ‘tool’ to communicate and connect, but right now it has already become a ‘thing’ that people can not live without it. It became so familiar that people are walking on 21

the streets with their eyes on their phones or even going to the bathroom with their phones. The fact that people can not break away from their social media addiction changed the entire relationships, family structure, and communication skills.

• Unfortunately, people prefer to look at their phones and connect to someone virtually while eating at the restaurants without having any conversation between people around them. In other words, they disconnect from the physical world and real people to connect social media and chat online with people. 45% of people feel disconnected from their families even when they are together, because of the technology and social media (APA).

• If people check their social media on phones for three hours daily, that is the time they are not spending on face-to-face interactions with people. Social media steals the time that people are supposed to spend on real interactions and relationships. The fewer amounts of time spending on real-life experiences affect people’s social communication skills in a negative way.

• Social media is negatively correlated with friendships, relationships, and even marriages. Firstly, excessive use of social media has a negative impact on the level of satisfaction about relationships. People are encouraged to compare their relationships and values with other people since social media is a common platform that people expose their relationships and even intimacy. Social media encourages people to have an affair with people they do not even know personally. According to the Wall Street Journal’s report, 1 in 5 marriages are ruined by Facebook (Bialik).

• Social media created its own informal and restrictive language with emojis, with abbreviations or even only with buttons. Social media addiction could also create non-verbal learning disabilities whereas people could start to forget how to use facial expressions or body languages. Individuals would not feel comfortable when they need to have face-to-face communications, and even phone calls would become too intense for them (Knapp & Hall). Eventually, they might face some difficulties when they have to use proper language and formal way of communication.

• Having a real conversation takes place in the real-time and people can not control how to act to an ongoing conversation or what to say. People are afraid of the feeling that ‘no one is listening to them.' Social media 22

helps them to escape these and spend more time with machines that seem to care about themselves. However, real-life experience is based on human nature, people cannot escape from these facts. When people have to have a real discussion during their formal life or emotional relationships, they tend to act socially anxious.

c. Target group • The target group of this thesis study is iGen which is also known as Generation Z, Homeland Generation or Linksters. This next generation born between 1995 and 2012 and they do not remember the time before social media or internet. (Twenge, 10). • It is expected that this cohort will reach 85 million in 2020 which means 25% of the United States population (Weinswig, 3). Five years later, they will be the fastest-growing cohort in both the workplace and the marketplace. • Over the past decade, there have been excessive amounts of studies related to social media and its negative effects. Studies proved that social media affects young generation at most. The reason behind is that this generation grew up with social media and technology. • iGen is on the verge of the most severe mental health crisis for decades (Twenge, 93). Social media use makes iGen anxious since they can compare themselves and their values with others whereas disconnection or digital fast also makes them more anxious since they do not know how to live without social media. In other words, this problem puts youth between a rock and a hard place.

i. Characteristics of iGen 1. in no hurry: iGen'ers tend to grow up slowly. They are less likely to go out without their parents, date, have sex, drive, work or drink alcohol (Twenge, 41). Combination of cultural individualism with excessive amounts of social media users are connected to slow developmental speeds for iGen. 2. internet: iGen'ers spend five hours in average with their mobile phones for social media, texting, gaming, and videos. They feel comfortable when they sleep with their mobile phones & connect to internet 24-hours. 3. in-person no more: iGen’ers spend more time communicating with their friends online and less time seeing their friends in person (Twenge,68). The dramatic decline in in-person social interaction leads to having less experience on social skills.



4. insecure: iGen’ers have been experiencing different types of mental health crisis which are strongly linked to excessive use of social media and smartphones. Teenagers are more likely to be left out, lonely, anxious, depressed, and unhappy compared with the older generations. 5. irreligious: iGen’ers tend to lose their religion and spirituality. They declined religion as a way to strengthen their relationships and to give them a sense of purpose. 6. insulated not intrinsic: iGen’ers are more concerned about their safety. They do not even prefer to take any risks or have an adventure. Moreover, teens who spend more time on social media are more likely to be individualistic and less likely to value community involvement (Twenge,176). 7. income security: iGen’ers prefer to work hard to survive in today’s economical system meet their high materialistic expectations to be more safe and secure. 8. indefinite: iGen'ers are less likely to be active in their sex lives. One of the reasons is that they use internet for porn very conveniently and they have higher expectations. They approach sex as a practical activity, not an emotional one anymore. Thanks to dating applications, they are more likely to have multiple sexual partners and avoid commitment in relationships (Twenge,204). Since they are more individualistic than older generations, they are less likely to get married and have children. They claim that they do not need someone else to make them happier. They also do not prefer to take any responsibility to raise a child since one of their concerns is to be financially independent enough to raise a child. 9. inclusive: iGen’ers are more likely to support same-sex relationships and LGBT communities. They are the first generation who can understand the terms such as race gender and at early ages and have more conscious, liberal and positive attitude towards these topics. 10. independent: iGen’ers prefer to be politically polarized since social media allows them to cluster themselves with the others who have the same political view. However, they are not interested in staying informed or being politically active. One of the reasons is that iGen’ers have limitless access to information and they are not satisfied with the current political situation of United States.

ii. Use of social media • ‘’Social Media Today’’ explains that teenagers spend up to 9 hours a day on social media platforms.

• According to ‘’Being 13: Inside the Secret World of Teens’’ some teenagers check their social media accounts 100 times a day.


• 72% of teens admit that they feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages and other notifications (Common Sense Media).

• 78% of teenagers check their devices at least hourly. 50% of teenagers admit that they are addicted to their mobile devices (Common Sense Media).

• Snapchat and Instagram are the most popular websites among iGen. There have been some criticisms claim that Snapchat is promoting sexting and inappropriate content with its self-destruct visuals feature which could affect the young generation. Instagram is the most stress-inducing social media platform among young adolescent (CNN Health).

iii. Gender and age factor • The average age of a child getting their first mobile phone is 10 years (Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s

Digital Natives). • 39% of children get their first social media account at 11 years, whereas 11% of them get their first social media account before the age 10 (Kids & Tech: The Evolution of Today’s Digital Natives). • The early adolescent members of this generation are going through the ‘dramatic change’ and they are more vulnerable. Dr. Steiner-Adair states that girls are particularly at risk of social media addiction. • “Girls are socialized more to compare themselves to other people, girls in particular, to develop their identities, so it makes them more vulnerable to the downside of all this.” (Ehmke). 26

• Girls become more obsessive about their physical appearance especially for their sexualized presentation which results in sexting, performance-based posts, and low self-esteem.


• Psychiatrists also concluded that self-reported ADHD symptoms, depression, and hostility are associative factors of social media addiction among adolescents (Yen et al. 97). • Teenage girls in the United States are more tended to experience the higher level of depression and social phobia whereas hostility is more associated with teenage boys (Mojtabai, Olfson and Han, 8). • 39% of teen girls and 29% of teen boys said that how others perceive them on social media is a significant source of stress.

Gender role on social media use and its negative effects

iv. Interrelated People • In the United States, children aged between 8-18 spend on average 44 hours per week in front o screens (Kimberly). In other words, two days of screen time is robbing children of real-world experiences each week. Parents started to concern about their children's social media and mobile device use. 66% of parents feel that their children spend too much time on social media (Common Sense Media). • Social media helps kids to connect and reach each information from all around the world and the accuracy of the instant information cannot be controlled or filtered by parents. Even if many of the parents are worried about their children’s digital habits they are the ones who should be blamed for their behaviors. 28

53% of the teenagers claim that their parents check their devices so often. Children are living in an environment where they imitate their parent’s behavior and adapt them as a lifestyle. Parents have to be a good example and encourage children to keep their social life in balance by having more real-life experiences. Therefore, parents could play a crucial role. For this thesis study, parents would be a target audience of the upcoming design solution since they make the decisions for their children as a target market.

d. Current attempts to answer the problem of social media addiction i. Product designs There are only a few product design examples in the current market related to the compulsive internet, social media, and technology use.

1. Light phone: Light is a unique technology and design company, aims to help people to question their current habits and behaviors related to technology. On their website they indicate that ‘’our time & attention are the two most important things that we take for granted the hundreds of times a day we reach for our screens’’ (Hollier and Tang). The company claims that so many technological products indicate their aim as ’making our lives better,’ but in reality, they are engineered to ’keep us hooked.’ They are aware of the fact that the phones are the ‘things’ that people cannot live without even for hours. People as human beings are so vulnerable and the technological tools make them more addictive and exhausting. Their motto as a company is ‘’We are humans and we are taking our lives back!’’ The company designed the product ‘Light Phone’ which basically helps us appreciate life more with the help of technology. ‘Light Phone’ is a credit card-sized cell phone designed on purpose to be used as little as possible. In other words, it is a phone away from our current phones.

29 Light phone, a minimal and less functional flip phone

Ringly, a jewellery designed to disconnect from internet

2. Ringly: Another example of a product group is ‘Ringly’ which includes a smart bracelet, smart ring and other types of jewellery. ‘Ringly’ has a mission to live happily and be healthy. To achieve its mission, ’Ringly’ helps people to stay ‘connected,' ‘active’ and ‘mindful.’ What the company means by stay ‘connected’ is that connection without being glued to our screen. It empowers users to live far away from their phones and be alarmed only if they have an emergency situation.

ii. Service design and experiments There are considerable amounts of service design examples and experiments related to compulsive internet and technology use whereas most of them are only related to the social media applications. The aim of these models is encourage people for real-life communication ways by unplugging from their mobile phones and social networks.

1. Forest: is one of the most popular productivity applications which helps people to beat their addiction to their mobile phones and social media. It guides users to manage their time appropriately and productively. When users are disconnected from their phones and applications, they grow an artificial tree and earn points which they eventually use to plant real trees all around the world. There have been 115 million trees planted so far by the Forest application users. The success of this application is not negotiable because, by the end, the user gains healthier behavior by breaking his dependence on his mobile phone and social media. Moreover, the user contributes to creating a more sustainable world by planting real trees around the world with the points that he earns while he disconnects from his mobile phone and social media applications.

Forest, an app that helps user to focus and be productive. User eventually plants real trees on earth with her virtual coins.


2. 99 Days of Freedom: It is an experiment which has been launched by the Netherlands-based advertisement and design company ‘Just’ and collaborated with Cornell University. For this thesis research, the Skype interview was conducted with Merjin Straathof who is the founder of this world-renowned experiment. He shared that the bright idea first came to him since he considered himself as a Facebook addict. Then, in response to Facebook’s controversial mood experiment which involved 700.000 unwitting users (interestingly it has also collaborated with Cornell University and Chicago University), the Dutch company presented their online experiment to the world via social media. On their website, it is written that ‘‘Joining the 99 days of freedom experiment only takes a few minutes. Yet, it saves the average user 1683 minutes. That’s well over 28 hours of freedom!’’ Disconnecting from Facebook for three months saves people 28 hours. The main purpose of this experiment was to see the emotional effects of Facebook detox on volunteers. Moreover, Straathof claims that they only wanted to empower users to be more socially active in the physical world. The results were not consistent; however, at least 50,000 users enjoyed freedom with different amounts of time. The founder also mentioned that ’99 Days of Freedom’ has become so popular in a short amount of time since the news editors or reporters had promoted their work successfully. He believes that the reason why editors/reporters were so interested is that they have also witnessed the same problem by themselves or people around them in their personal lives when someone can find a connection with their concerns or values, it is easy to attract their attention.

iii. Laws and regulations Rules and regulations were launched recently around the world to solve email and 24-hour-connection problems of working class.

1. French legislation: France has a new law which makes it illegal to email employees after work hours. French politician Benoit Hamon reported to the BBC that ‘’Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work, they remain attached to a kind of electronic leash - like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails - they colonize the life of the individual to the point where she eventually breaks down’’ (Schofield). 2. Brain-cation zones: Digital detox, unplugging or digital fast means voluntarily and deliberately to stop using all connected devices to disconnect from the internet for a pre-specified amount of time (Dholakia). Wi-fi free hotels, tech-free excursions, and wellness centers were launched to give people a digital detox. In January, Marriott and Renaissance Hotel chains, with the aim to create areas with tech-free games and stressfree tips for their special guests started to test ‘Brain-cation Zones’ in eight hotels. "We saw people on the 31

beach with their laptops," said Michelle Bozoki, director of marketing and e-commerce for Marriott Resorts. "We encourage guests to sit in the areas, play games, read. It's great to see kids with their parents, and no one is attached to their phone” (Brown). Additionally, tech-free summer camps for adults became very popular nowadays where people pay hundreds to unplug and get relaxed.

iv. Campaigns and curriculums

1.Google-Be Internet Awesome: Internet Awesome is a curriculum, and a collaboration between Google and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe.org). This resource is part of Be Internet Awesome, a multifaceted program designed to teach kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online. The Internet Awesome Curriculum gives educators the tools and methods they need to teach digital safety fundamentals in the classroom. The lesson plans, best suited for grades 3 to 5, bring the most critical teachings to the surface—acting as backup for educators priming students to be safe and responsible digital citizens. It also includes online game that raise awareness among students about different topics.

2. Coca-Cola Social Media Guard: Coca-Cola launched an ironic video about a fictional product called Social Media Guard which is a human size dog cone to stop people from checking their mobile devices. In their video, the company targeted different people in various social environments such as a couple on a date and a father with his kids. The motto of this product is ‘’take the social out of media & put it back into your life.” 32

Coca Cola Social Media Guard for the couples who eat together at the restaurant.

Anti-social media campaign through social media.

3. Anti-social media campaign: User experience designer Slavo Mier launched a campaign related to society’s social media addiction. He created warning content images as same as Tobacco packagings. He aims to encourage people to engage with each other by the power of thought-provoking campaign. The resources mentioned above are only a few examples, more resources were used throughout the research. It can be said that all of those business models are the first attempts to answer a problem of social media addiction and need of digital detox or internet/social media free environments by having a reactive approach instead of being proactive. Even if there is some specific research focused on the young generation about the risks of social media addiction, it seems that there are not adequate nor original examples of solutions for the young generation yet. This major issue could become more urgent in the following years and since it is proven that some specific risk factors could mainly affect iGen .



a. Instagram Poll i. Purpose The aim of this poll is to create question marks on users head by asking some ironic questions about social media through social media. Instagram is used as a channel to reach numbers of people in just a few hours. Creating a poll as a brand new feature on Instagram was designed to encourage the audience to interact with the user more and get feedback from them in a direct way. The polling feature can be created only in Instagram Stories which is seen only 24-hours and disappear after then. Questions and responses (limited to two response options) can be customized and filtered by the user before posting to create better content. Once the poll was published as a personal Instagram story, followers can vote on their choice (it is optional, they could also prefer not to vote). If they interact with your poll and vote their opinion on the poll, they are able to see the updated results of the poll right after their vote. Instagram is a unique platform to source accurate data from the audience, and it is an ironic and unique way to understand the user’s opinion about the current phenomenon, especially for this thesis study.

ii. Questions The poll was created on November 28th by posting four different questions related to social media use. The decision for the language of the questions was critical since the aim is to encourage users to participate by creating a neutral content to receive honest feedback. The poll questions were seen by nearly 350 users only in 24 hours. Below the questions and response options can be seen in order. 1. Is society becoming too dependent on social media? Yes, No 2. Does social media affect our mental health? Yes, No 3. How often do you check your Instagram? 1-2 times a day, 5-10 times a day 4. How would be our life without social media? Peaceful, Boring

iii. Key findings The results of each question can be seen including the number of viewers, respondents, and percentages of the poll responses as the attachment.


Poll analysis by number of responses

1.Language and content Even each question was seen by 350 users actively only 1/3 of them voluntarily responded and gave their feedback. Also, the number of responses were not equal for each question which could be related with the language or the content of the questions. The association between social media and mental health received the least number response compared with the others which could be a proof of diffidence or denial of the ‘social media addiction.' 2. Demographics Demographics of the followers of the thesis student includes majority of the international young generation. The nationality might have different effects for the concept of social media. If all the users were Americans the results would be different than right now. Moreover, the foreign language barrier could be another reason why only 1/3 prefer to respond the questions even if the language was so clear and basic. 3. Private feedback During the poll session, the student had received seven different personal feedback (via Instagram Direct Message) as responses to their awareness & addiction level of social media. These particular feedbacks were as reactions related to the content of the poll questions. 35

• To begin with the most dramatic one, 25 years old graduate student had claimed that she is addicted to social media and mentally affected by the others’ thoughts about herself.

She admitted that she had

attempted too many times to disconnect from social media by deleting her accounts but at the end of each attempt she gave up because she felt left behind and out of the topic while everybody around her was using social media except herself. At the end of the conversation, she rose against social media and the world system today supported by the confession about her shame and regret right after her facial surgery to look better on the selfies. She wanted to change both her and the public’s behavior about social media. However, she was so pessimistic about the today and the future of social media use. • Masters student at Sociology department had given his thoughts on the topic of social media addiction. He had claimed that each platform like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have a different aim and psychological effects on human’s behavior. While he thinks that the Instagram and Snapchat could be so dangerous for humans’ mental health, he also claims that Facebook and Twitter are more used for information sharing whereas people could receive lack of information and eventually this make their life more difficult than before. The poll questions are limited to only one response, what if the attendant would prefer to response both ‘Peaceful’ and ‘Boring’ at the same time. He was right, but this ironic experiment aimed to encourage users to pick their sides in few seconds as the human nature faced this fact in real life. • The third respondent was a new graduate who had shared some contact numbers to reach out people who have a digital detox from a social media for a long time. These two people who had deleted their Instagram accounts and using Facebook only for the events and plans. One of them informed that he believes these applications are using his on friends maliciously to hold social media over himself and he did not want to be a victim of this strategical game. The other one had been on digital detox for four months, and she informed that she never felt left behind since she discovered alternative ways to connect with people. She claims that almost all of her friends reflect entirely different persona than they are in regular life, especially through Instagram. This fact made her irritated about social media and doubted about her close friends’ sincerity. • Lastly and interestingly, one of the attendants who had already submitted her responses to the polls few hours before, had sent a message and informed that she meant to answer ‘Peaceful’ but she picked ‘Boring’ at that time for the question ‘how would be our life without social media?’ She regretted her previous response and wanted to change her opinion. The reason why she texted the thesis student is that she was so sensitive to the poll results.


b. Interviews i. Purpose The common purpose of the interviews was to understand the causes and the negative effects of social media addiction from a unique point of views. 1. Cause • what are the channels & frequency of social media interaction? • what is the role and value of social media interaction? • what is the real link between social media addiction and interpersonal relationships? 2. E!ects • what are the specific risk factors for social media addiction? • what is the pattern of addiction and similarities between social media addiction? • what are the direct effects of social media addiction on both physical & mental health? 3. Advice • how can this thesis study make people more conscious about the risks of social media addiction? • how can this thesis study help people look for preventive approaches to the problem of social media addiction? • how can this thesis study eventually improve people’s quality of life by helping them adopt healthier lifestyle behavior?

ii. Interviewees Eight interviews were conducted with neuroscientists, author and editor, wellness counselor, experience designer, parent and diversified members of the target group. The content of each interview was specified according to the perspective and expertise of each interviewee (see appendix).

1. Psychiatrists and Behavioral Neuroscientists (2)

- David R. Rosenberg Chair of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences Wayne State University ‘‘Internet Addiction and Compulsive Internet Use’’ (responses received via email on November 16th)

- Vaibhav A Diwadkar Ass. Prof. at Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences Department, Wayne State University - ‘‘Brain Imaging Research Division Lab’’ (face to face interview on November 9th)


• The primary purpose of these interviews was to understand the unique perspective of experts about social media addiction and to learn details/results of their current study ‘‘Internet Addiction and Compulsive Internet Use’’. The study focused on brain function and abnormalities when teenagers have digital fast for certain amount of time (average 4 weeks). Both interviewees agreed that for human’s brain and mental health, internet addiction including social media has critical similarities with other types of behavioral addiction, yet there is more study needed to prove this problem as a clinical disorder. They explained that their research had supported their argument; however, they need to continue with further details including different risk factors such as age, gender, and familial/parental factors. They believe that after specific amounts of evidence, this problem will be accepted as a clinical disorder by DSM.

2. Experience Designer

- Merjin Straathof, Experience designer at ‘’Just ‘’ and Founder of a campaign ‘’99daysoffredoom’’ (skype interview on October 28th)

• The main purpose of this interview was to understand the motivation and the results of world-renown Facebook experiment ‘’99daysoffredoom’. The designer explained that he considered himself as an addicted to Facebook. Once Straathof realized the problem of social media addiction, he decided to design an experiment for people to encourage them to experience real-world interaction by quitting Facebook for 99 days. He believes that social media has an enormous potential to create a viral content if it is used for its purpose. His experiment became terrifically popular with a snowball effect. As a result of their experiment, in collaboration with Cornell University, they found that people had a strong urge to come back to Facebook and their emotional condition has been continuously changed during the experiment.

3. Wellness Counsellor

- Alissa Lusky, Personal Counsellor, MA. LLP. at Wellness Center of College for Creative Studies (face to face interview on October 27th)

• The primary purpose of this interview was to learn the attitude of a personal counselor to the problem of social media addiction and to learn if there was any case related with students’ social media addiction in Wellness Centre of CCS. Lusky explained their recent cases which are linked to social media addiction either directly or indirectly. She argues that there is not any reactive or proactive approach,

therapies nor 38

communities related to social media addiction. She also agreed that neither parents or students are aware of the social media addiction since it aroused in only a few years.

4. Author and Editor

- Rachel Ehmke, Author & Senior Media Editor at Child Mind Institute ’‘How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers’’ (responses received via e-mail on October 27th)

• The main purpose of this interview was to learn the perspective of an author and editor who targets parents for the social media addiction problem of teenagers. Moreover, Ehmke’s attitude for the conversion of academic data to the public news to warn people and increase awareness. She explains that people rely on others to summarize and interpret research (and other news). For better and for worse. As a result, her role is extremely important when she converts academic data into the public news. Since public news is the most convenient way to increase awareness. Ehmke was aware of the negative effects of social media addiction, and she believed that people have no idea about the potential impacts of social media interaction. She gave some advice to parents to keep their children lives in balance.

5. Pioneer of Social Media Awareness - Jonathan N. Berntrand, Founder and Entrepreneur ‘’Social Media Awareness’’, ‘’Global Touch Foundation’’ (phone call interview on October 26th)

• The primary purpose of this interview is to understand the motivation and the reasons behind the pioneer of a public campaign of ‘’Social Media Awareness’’. Berntrand claims that he, as an old member of iGen, was witnessed by negative effects social media addiction and decided to create public awareness related to both positive and negative impacts of social media. He explained that he continues to raise awareness about this campaign by attending events and conferences, giving speeches and publishing books. He claims that there is not enough public conversation related to the phenomenon of social media addiction; therefore, people are not conscious about the negative impacts of this problem.

6. Blogger, Model, and Actress - Hannah Payne, Blogger, Actress and Model ‘’Examining social media culture today: Are we addicted to our apps? Larry King Now’’ (phone call interview on October 25th) 39

• The primary purpose of this interview was to understand the attitude and perception of a unique member of iGen, who has a business through social media. Payne claims that she is aware of the negative impacts of social media addiction, but the positive impacts of social media make her life easier and create new career paths for her. However, she refuses that she has been affected by these negative effects. Interestingly, as a social phenomenon on Instagram, she has never experienced anything negative through social media.

7. Parent - Alissa Lusky, Mother of a girl (15) and a boy (14) (face to face interview on November 3rd)

• The primary purpose of this interview was to understand the perspective of a mother of two children who admits that her daughter is definitely addicted to social media. Lusky has a daughter who is a senior in high school and a son who is junior at the same school. She compared the behaviors of her children and explained her concerns about her daughter’s social media addiction problem. She was warned by her daughter’s teachers from high school about social media and her daughter got a suspension because of one of the cases related to social media prank in high school. She believes that this generation has some distinctive characteristics compared with the older ones. However, if a teenager is highly engaged with social media and her mobile phone, the feature turns into a problem. Her attitude as a parent was extremely mature; she believed that her daughter has to experience the negative effects by herself to change her behavior. • A day in the life: During the interview, she was asked to explain her daughter’s and son’s typical day in the life to create a user journey. Interestingly, each scene of her daughters day included her mobile phone even 40

if she goes downstairs to take a snack for 5 minutes. As a result of this conversation, Lusky argues that her daughter’s mobile phone is her left arm.

Selection of pictures from the Facebook profile of Lusky’s daugher

c. Focus group - Focus group was conducted with four teenagers, to learn more about iGen’s habits, behaviors and the value of their social media interaction. Alex, Josh, Tara and Evan are 13 years old teenagers who go to the same elementary school together. During the meeting, they were not informed about the topic as a problem of social media addiction until the end of the conversation. All of these teenagers got their mobile phones when they were twelve years old.

• Unexpectedly, during the conversation, they started to question their behaviors and habits related to social media. They feel that they need to use Snapchat constantly because they wanted to increase their streaks. But when they start to explain how do streaks work, they admit that they do not know the reason why do they want to increase their streaks actually.



• They believe that life without social media would be better for them because they do not clearly understand the value of social media interaction. They started to use it because everyone around them was using social media. If they do not use social media they will miss some events or conversation among other teenagers. • All of them admitted that they would prefer real life, face-to-face interaction; however, they believe that social media interaction is more convenient and makes their lives easier. When they have to have a real interaction, they feel uncomfortable. One of the girls admitted that when she has phone calls, sometimes she stops for few seconds in silence, instant feedback and reaction at real conversation are very difficult for her, she feels unprepared to the conversation. • During the conversation, boys explained that they spend more time on online games or memes whereas girls spend more time on social media. Girls agreed with boys’ thoughts and gave some examples of their elementary school friends. • Concept association: pictures, talking, people, likes, memes, views, Instagram and Snapchat are the words that they associated with social media. Interestingly, they meant ‘online chat’ or ‘texting’ by ‘talking.’

d. Insights from primary research Almost all of the primary research methods support the data that have been collected through secondary research. During the primary research, various perspectives of people from different fields and experiences were clarified. Some of the responses from interrelated people and experts were overlapped with the reaction of iGen members. Each response complemented each other and eventually, this thesis study can adapt more comprehensive attitude to the problem of social media addiction. In the chart above, different perspectives and opinions about the same topic are visualized to have a better comparison and clear analysis. During this thesis research,

there are numbers of significant learning outcomes were identified for the

problem of social media addiction among iGen.

e. Learning outcomes • The benefits and negative impacts of social media interaction • Detailed features of social media as an ‘addiction’ • Characteristics of iGen, role and value of social media interaction among iGen • Causes and the specific risk factors of social media addiction among iGen. • Negative effects of social media addiction on iGen’ers mental health, physical health and relationships 43


a. Motivation During thesis research, the negative effects and the risks of social media addiction that have been affecting iGen were explained in details. The biggest problem related with social media addiction is that iGen has been experiencing striking, dramatically behavioral change without having any proactive reclaim or preparation when they first get their smartphones. Tweens caught up in their smart phones even when they are physically together. They spend up to 9 hours a day on social media platforms. 78% of children check their devices at least hourly. 50% of teenagers admit that they are addicted to their mobile devices. Tween age -when they first start to own their phones- is the optimal age that could prevent children being an addicted to their smartphones and internet. The aim of this design solution is to create a smooth transition period which could be defined as a ‘provisional period’ when each child could be educated and prepared to use their smart phones and empowered to boost their creativity and social thinking skills by collaboration.

b. Main Elements According to John B. Mahaffie, who is a co-founder and principal of Leading Futurist, personal characteristics and learning skills will make children successful in their future lives. He claims that parents are partially blind since they do not think about the possibilities in the future. Twenty years later, in 2038, the tweens who are ten years old today will be 30 years old. There is no certainty but there are some elements of the prediction analysis that are relevant. According to the trends, emerging technology and changes in the world, there will be a core need of international connections, multidisciplinary works and collaboration in the working environment.

Mahaffie claims that there are number of important skills that children must need in the future which are love of learning, skill at learning, self-knowledge, people sense, communication, worldliness, comfort and complexity, goal setting, and open minds. While iGen needs these skills the most in the future, social media has influenced all of these skills negatively because it has been used without conscious. This thesis aims to contribute the skills that the children need most in their future which are defined by Mahaffie. • Love of learning: A desire and excitement to learn new different things will bring a user great success and satisfaction. Early childhood is the moment where a child finds learning challenging and interesting enhanced by different incentives such as rewards, fun and personal interest.


• Skill at learning: Learning experiences have changed from traditional methods to new methods thanks to the technology. The time and effort that today’s child is spending for learning is different from other generations. The accuracy of the information is a question of debate for the things that we learn each day. Learning skills would help kids to know the best channel to get information and how to use that information in an accurate way. • Self knowledge: Self-knowledge and self-confidence are related with each other. These two elements are the core factors of self-awareness. This would eventually affect the communication skills of a child. When a child has a self-confidence to share her uniqueness she would feel comfortable to expose and communicate with others. • People sense & worldliness: Being aware of what is happening around yourself is a precious characteristic since everyone is naturally self-focused. Understanding the current situations and issues around them will help children to be a good role model and ideal contributors. • Communication & openness: Communication is a skill that includes various aspects such as written, spoken and visual communication. If a child is a good communicator, he naturally improves his other skills and becomes better at collaboration with others. As a core of collaboration, an open minded child is adaptable, empathic and thoughtful for unexpected changes in today’s world. • Goal setting: Success comes from setting your own goal and meeting them at the end of the experience. For collaboration successful goal setting ends up with productivity whereas for an individual it ends up with personal success and advancement.

The skills that are mentioned above for the core skills that iGen will need the most in the future helped to define the main elements of this thesis design solution.

i. Awareness Contrary to what is believed, upcoming generation is so sensitive and careful about their health and wellbeing, if they are informed about the risks and dangers of the objectives. For example, they drink less alcohol and do not prefer to use drugs comparing with the older generation. Protecting during the sex and driving carefully are other examples that prove that iGen members are careful enough about the issues if they are well educated or see the negative effects beforehand within examples. Because of these reasons, one of the motivations of this design proposal is to create an awareness about the risks and negative effects of social media addiction. 45

ii. Collaboration Communication and collaboration are the main skills that iGen having some difficulties since they were born and raised with technology and internet. Unfortunately, today the general assumption is that social media, internet and technological devices are one of the key reasons why iGen are losing these core skills. This design aims to enhance real collaboration and communication by using social networking and technological devices as a tool. Changing the general assumptions of the children who are having their first experience with their smartphones is one of the motivations of this thesis design proposal.

iii. Creativity Every child is born with creativity, the most important thing is that they need to be supported by the tools that they interact with everyday. They are more talented and used to express themselves via technological devices. However, currently social media results in self-esteem and confidence problems since they feel like they feel pressure that they need to imitate the ‘populars’ instead of expressing their own uniqueness and creativity via social media channels. Rarely, the ones who try to express themselves in a unique way become successful in social media platforms. The motivation of this design proposal is to enhance creativity of tweens which would help them to increase their self-confidence and keep their uniqueness. According to CCN NewSource, children and teens check YouTube, play games, and scroll thorough social media feeds with their phones. In other words, they are passive consumers of the content that they are interested in during the years that they are at the peak of their creativity. If they use the right tools and are directed consciously, they could use this time to build creative skills with productivity by expressing their own opinions, stories or ideas. Thanks to the nature of childhood, tweens enjoy expressing themselves in a unique way but they might think that they do not have enough courage, voice and encouraging platforms where they feel motivated to show who they are and what they like without any filters. Social media channels have a great potential to be used as a method to increase creativity among iGen.

iv. Social Awareness Today, kids are more conscious about the social issues and world problems since they are directly or indirectly affected by the results. Current issues proved that teenagers, even the children try to raise their voice and expose themselves related with social topics. Social media is the easiest tool to reach a society with an aim to support or protest a social problem or issue that currently the environment is experiencing. 46

They show some strong behavioral differences because of growing up during periods of economic recession, the rise of terrorism and a different parenting style. “Gen Z is connected however alone, confident yet worried, pampered but stressed” (Broennimann).

c. Target Group The design solution meets the needs of both perspectives of parents and tweens. Firstly, parents do not have any platform that they prefer to use and verify their children’s knowledge and collaboration skills in a friendlier way. All the examples are in the market based on parental control, screen time management and controlling by the applications. However, these examples are not preferred by children since they believe that they are limited or spied by their parents.

i. Target audience For this design solution, parents would be a target audience since they make the decisions for their kids. Moreover, parents know the best of their children’s personalities including their strengths and weaknesses. Last but not least, even if many of the parents are worried about their children’s digital habits they are the ones who should be responsible for their behaviors. This solution would create an awareness for the parents as well. • Half of the teenagers (53%) claim that their parents check their devices so often (NBC News). Children are living in an environment where they imitate their parent’s behavior and adapt them as a lifestyle. Parents have to be a good example and encourage children to keep their social life in balance by having more reallife experiences.

Social media helps kids to connect and reach each information from all around the world and the accuracy of the instant information cannot be controlled or filtered by parents. • Large numbers of parents (66%) feel that their children spend too much time on social media (Common Sense Media). Currently, these concerned parents try to find a makeshift solution with dumb phones or firewall applications to control their children’s social media and smart phone use.


ii. Final users- Tweens In the US, the average age of children getting their first smartphone is 10 years. 39% of children get their first social media account at 11 years even the optimal age has been defined as 13. Therefore, the final user of this design ideation is iGen members who are 10 years old in average. This age could be changed by both the characteristics and maturity of kids and the decision of the parents. The only consideration is that kids have to get their first smartphones to use this application and connect with their peers/fellows within the similar conditions.

1. Characteristics of Tweens Tweens are at the ages between being a child and a teenagers. They might feel that they are not children anymore but they are not teenagers yet. Their desires and style have been shaped especially at this age from a childish one to a more ‘cool’ teenage style. In other words, they feel they are not belong to any side and they are growing up. Targeting this specific age is risky but if the design meets with their expectations and needs, it would reach a large amount of user since they affect each others’ decision. There were some critical considerations that affected the design details of this proposal.

• ‘Eight Second Filter’ Attention Span ‘Attention Span Statistics’ states that iGen have an eight second attention span and they are unable to focus for extended amounts of time. In other words, their brain have ‘eight-second filter’ that each company has to consider that if they want to target this group. The way this design solution interacts with them considers this fact since it aims to create awareness and conscious by having their attention.

• Gender Fluid Characteristics According to the survey that has conducted 4500 members of iGen, 94 % of respondents agreed that the gender doesn’t define a person as much as it used to and that changing ideas about genders is allowing more people to be themselves. 91% don’t care about the race and the sexual orientation of their peers, but at the same time, 93% believe that racial and sexual orientation discrimination still exist (Broennimann). ‘Gender Fluidity’ is a new term aroused by this generation’s sensitivity and choices, they would not prefer to be stereotyped and they have more independent and liberal decisions about their gender.


Inspiration for the Gender Equality and Unique Character Definition

• Coolness & Uniqueness Aspect According to the chart above, GenZ would rather be considered unique than real. 60% of GenZ prefer to create their own fashion statement or uniqueness. In other words this generation would not prefer to be stereotyped. Cool is an indication of what people pay attention to, what gets them excited, and can often act as a manifestation of their hope and dreams. Brand Team for Consumer Apps at Google has searched the meaning of coolness among GenZ. Beauty, celebrities, music and fashion were some of the topics that they find cool. They believe and rely on brands would change their worlds. Celebrities that are philanthropic and genuine are the coolest.

d. Channel i. Why Application? The reason why the design solution will be applied via an application is that it could be the best way to adapt \ update solution according to the trends and changes in today. We are living in the age that people especially young generation- quit using the tools or applications in a short amount of time therefore digital 49

solution would be more sustainable and eligible for tweens to use for a short amount of time. Moreover, the application could be updated easily according to the needs and expectations of the target group. Lastly, since the final users’ age is so unique application could be the best way to reach out them as a crowd. Reaching out and usability of an application could be so easy especially for the generation when popularity expands with ‘word of mouth’. Since the problem is defined as ‘there is not any smooth transition nor preparation period for kids when they first get their phones’ their smartphones are the best and the most impactful tool to engage with.

For the idea and concept development process, there were some important data that are gathered from the research helped for defining the key elements. For this application education and collaboration are the main elements to reach out kids and engage with. These topics need parental contribution only at the time that is vital such as creating rules according to the tweens’ characteristics and event creation for some events. Duration of the application is defined as 3 months which could be optimal for the provisional period of tweens including a storytelling experience with a collaboration.



a. Squad Application ‘Squad’ is an application that tweens use when they get their first smartphone which is downloaded by parents to be used for 3 months. It creates a preparation and provisional period for them by educating tweens and creating awareness about the risks of social media, while enhancing collaboration with teamwork for creative social impact contribution.

• Squad+ is an application for parents where they could track their children's’ achievements and activities and test their own consciousness and track their own social media and internet habits.



Main Elements

• It locks the other features of the smartphone for a certain period, whereas tweens could find a better ‘meaning’ and ‘reason’ for social networking in their future engagements. In order to use squad, each time user has to answer ticket questions and related with the risks of social media addiction. In other words it creates a purpose built approach among social media and increase awareness.

• At the beginning of the experience tweens are required to create their profile with their influencers, hobbies and their interested social issue topic. According to these settings, they are involved in a ‘squad’ with other 3 peers to create a short term story by using application including different methods. This enhances their collaboration and social responsibility.

• During the three months tweens will regularly meet with their ‘squad’ to produce a creative art piece as a result of their storytelling game. These meetings will be via application on weekdays and be physical on weekends. It increases their creativity collaboration and creativity skills. Main Elements




Social Responsibility

Ticket questions for limited use

Squad members

Storytelling with imagination

Voting system for your creative masterpiece



Challenges with squad members

Finding the best way to express your story

Purpose built approach





Each month selected squad will be contacted with channels to support their social issue topic



1+23*+ ,4#/(5"$4



!"#$%"&' ()*+,-)./)((





!"#$%"&'/ -0++,/)((










0(3 ///0((///0('/





b. How it works i. Before the Game - Settings • Parents: are decision makers for this age. They will be informed via different channels and they will decide to give phone to their child on condition that the ‘squad’ will be on their phone for 3 months. They will download the application to both of their phones and sign up by giving both parental & child information on the settings session. They will decide whether they receive feedback and notification about their children's’ overall activity. They are also offered to track their own internet use data. 1

Sign Up


Parents’ Info

Child’s info

4 Download the app to her childs’ phone, give it to him

Personalization of the challenges

Personality Questions



Profile Information


Child Personality Questions


Downloads the app to her own phone

3 Personal Settings Feedback Frequency Preferences (Day Time) Personal Tracker Option

• Tweens: Tweens will receive their first one when their parents are done with downloading and settings of squad. They will make a commitment with their parents that they will use this application for three months.


Profile Creation

Storytelling Experience

Avatar creation

Social Issue Topic


2 Personal Settings

Channel Preference

RESULT Squad is ready



Log in



Receives phone from parent with an app

Teammates will be defined according to social issue topic and other preferences

School, Reference etc. Preferences (Day Time) Emergency Contact


During their own settings they need to create their character, indicate their hobbies and pick their favorite social issue topic. These will help app to analyze the best fit for the squad.

1. Avatar creation + Hobbies Definition At the settings, each tween will be asked to create their own avatar and define their hobbies. For avatar creation there are different optional categories that tween could use for her profile. She will pick her favorite philanthropic influencers from the categories of ‘artists’, ‘leader’, ‘athlete’, ‘star’ and ‘superhero’. They are free to create their avatar by combining one character from each category. The options will be updated periodically by the feedback from the user. For now, below it can be seen the influencers and their categories. They will pick their interests and hobbies as topic selection. 2. Social Issue Topic After creating their avatar and defining their hobbies, tween will be asked to pick her favorite ‘social topic’ to support at the end.

According to pediatric experts and the data from futurecast Genz there are some

emerging topics that this generation cares the most. These are, ‘gender equality’, ‘racial equility’, ‘nature and environment’, ‘guns and violence’, ‘poverty’ and ‘bullying and mental health’. 3. Squad Creation When they are done with the settings, their preferences will be analyzed and they will be assigned to one team which is defined as their ‘own squad’. Team members need to define a the best

time for their

application interaction for the weekdays.

ii. During the Game - Weekday Log in Application interaction starts with a ticket question and each tween will have limited amount of time to contact with their friends. It would help them to manage their time and interact with their friends with a purpose. Tickets questions are the gates that let them to use the application each day.

1. Ticket questions for Awareness Children need to be educated related with the emerging topics of social media and internet addiction. They need to learn what is right and what is wrong in different emerging topics. These topics are based on research and clustered regarding their similarities and importance.


EXPERIENCE FLOWA DAY OF LIFE Tween logs in to !"#$% at the time he decided to interact for weekdays.

Log in 21:03 DAY 6 TIME 21:02

Ticket (Question)

Welcome Page

Main Page

21 Q1 Which one is a better password for a profile? 12345 Jball12_! WRONG RIGHT

INFORMATION If he fails the Q, he needs to be informed



He would not achieve his daily goal, which affects his score for squad challenge

Ticket (Question)

MAXIMUM 1 hour in the app


His squad is already online

Video chat


Join Chat


Create an event

1:06 21:09

Storyboard meeting on Sunday

21:17 is [Squad ready [ I am an artist

TOPIC : school

Record a funy memory

End of call



30 min [together [ I am an artist

+ 30 points to squad

TOPIC : school

TIME 22:00

Send support request to mom for organization

Log out

• All of these educational topics simply include some basic questions including methods of two selections such as right or wrong’, ‘do or don’t’ , ‘yes or no’ and ‘real or fake’ and fill in the blank questions.

• During the specific amount of time which is defined as ‘ticket questions to log in the application’ tweens are expected to answer questions.

In order to make this part of the application more dynamic and

unpredictable, the time span of each challenge and topics will be different than each other.

• Importance of ticket questions’ topics will be personalized by parents if they would prefer to enter their children's’ personal habits or characteristics during the settings session.

• Weekend quizup: If the child is physically together with her ‘squad members’ - team members they will challenge these questions & compete with each other to decide the winner and the storyteller of week.

• There will be different level of questions, starting from the easiest to the hardest ones during the three months.

Educational topics for the questions 1. Accessibility + Emergency: Accessibility and emergency situations are the first and main reason why tweens get their own phone at this age. In order to teach them the main reason of using smartphone as a communication tool, there will be a series of challenges that test tweens’ consciousness. 2. Time Management + Concentration: Smartphones and access to internet are highly related with time management, school success and concentration span.

When tweens first get their smartphone they are

unable to balance their time and they are distracted by the unlimited access of internet. In order to teach them how to manage their time efficiently, this topic is added as one of the challenges. 3. Privacy+ Inappropriate Content: Tweens are not educated or warned about the privacy problems on internet nor inappropriate content that they might come up randomly. The aim of this challenge is to test their reaction to the inappropriate content and test their preferences while creating their accounts on social media. 4. Cyberbullying + Emotional Expression: Cyberbullying is the most emerging topic nowadays. Tweens receive considerable amounts of treats from internet and do not know how to react this properly. In addition, tweens have started to lose their ability to express their emotions when they use their smartphones. This challenge helps them to act properly if they experience any cyberbullying situation through internet. 55

5. Combination of all Tasks: The aim of these challenges is to help both parents and tweens understand their own strengths and weaknesses regarding the educational topics. At the end of the game this challenge will test the all categories in a random way so that both sides will be reassured about the results and the possible outcomes.

iii. During the Game - Weekend Log in - Collaboration with Peers for Creative Storytelling According to the selections and preferences from the settings sessions, tween will become a one member of a squad within common features and same social issue topic. These squad members will be team mates for the three months of span. They will communicate with each other by using this application and create meetings for each week for the story telling and quiz-up sessions. 1. Storytelling • Character creation + Dice creation: For the first squad meeting, after the squad ticket for the log in (quiz up challenge) each member has to create a one dice from the doodle gallery. In order to make dices more personal and fun each surface has its own question for the tween. Once they are done by creating a dice, they need to create their, main character or hero for the story. They could brainstorm by questioning “how, when, who, what” to create a fun and interesting character.

• Other weeks: For the following weekend, they need to start creating their story-path Winner (who is selected according to the weekly consistency and weekend quizup challenge) selects the one side from four dices and the squad continue the story each week. Last two weeks, they will have an access to creative tools to create a material of their masterpiece. At the end they have to create a masterpiece of their story with alternative ways (it could be video. visual, verbal or musical). They share their masterpiece on the gallery. Each month first three days, there will be an evaluation that parents and other peers could also join. The pieces will be evaluated anonymously. Winner squad shares the masterpiece with a channel (brand or celebrity) to promote their creative piece and support their social issue topic with the power of channel.

2. Finding a real friends with common characteristics According to the school, neighborhood, hobbies and avatar based data, tween receives some suggestions for more real friendships that she will potentially transfer the contact to the other social media platforms in the future. This would increase her ability to make friends with better and real connections.




I am an artist

Log in

Log in

Squad (Quiz up Challenge)

Log in

Log in Q1








10 Questions compete with your friends by time and correct answer




storyteller of this weekend


Save the character details for your story. Start your story.


am an artist

Next Week! Use your dices to continue your story. Winner will decide which doodle to use by rolling.

Storyboard You will have four dices that are created by each of you for your storytelling. Think about these “FAV’dices as a tool to describe yourself as an indivodual.







It is squad’s first week of ideation create your character + create a ‘FAV’ dice for each person from the doodle gallery

I am an artist

BRAINSTORMING QUESTIONS Who is your character? What is she doing? Where is she? When is this story happening?

Character creation Ideation

iii. After Game After 3 months, tweens had experienced creative storytelling with a teamwork. If their group is selected via anonymous evaluation, they connect with the channel that they decided at the beginning. It could be either a brand or a celebrity to raise their voice and support to their social issue project.

• This project could be a good volunteering project that they could transfer on their resume in the future. • They could transfer real friendships and networks with real common interest or background to their future social network applications such as Facebook and Instagram. • They could increase their self-confidence by knowing themselves better and learning their hidden skills with a group project. • Tween had become more conscious by learning the basic rules, terms and risks of social media and internet.

c. Interviews & AB Testing of Visuals During the ideation phase for the details of design solution, different characters and rules have been created. According to the feedback from advisors and the AB testing from the tweens, the visuals and the rules have been changed to meet the expectations of the users. Eight tweens from the ages between nine and 11 were interview during the ideation process. They are asked to define the definition of coolness and they asked to 57

pick the coolest option among avatar creations. According to their feedback, elements of avatar has been created. What did I learn ?




Social Responsibility

What are their concerns about social media?

What would they prefer to do with their friends ?

Who are their influencers and why do they like them ?

What are the social issues that they concern the most ?

How do they define themselves with words, subjects ? What does ‘unique’ mean to them ?

What is the best way to express their creativity ? A-B-C testing of my avatar visuals What does ‘cool’ mean to them?

i. Learning Outcomes • They were also asked for their favorite influencers from different categories. The answers are Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Shakira, Demi Lovato, Steph Curry, Picasso, Dali, Da Vinci, Obama, Justin Bieber, Flash, Justin Bieber, Wonderwoman, Hulk, Justin Bieber, Lebron James, Angelina Jolie, Michael Phelps, Charlie Puth, Taylor Swift, Jojo Swia. The most interesting categories are Superheros and Celebrities.The least interesting category is Leaders.

d. UI Design i.Name and Logo

SQUAD ’Squad’ is one of the most popular words that GenZ has been currently using (there are some other examples such as ‘fam’, ‘lit’, ‘turnt’ and ‘shade’). It literally means the regular “squad” or “team” but in a cooler way from their perspective. In this case, the aim of this design is to help tweens to find their real friends and collaborate


each other by using the application ‘squad’ . The logo is a visual implication of ‘collaboration’ including the facts such as age, gender fluidity and diversity among tweens.

Squad squad

ii. Color Code and Fonts Visual design of this application is affected and shaped by the characteristics of iGen and tween generation. As a result, different variety of colors are used to engage with tweens.

Avenir Next Medium 21

Comfortaa Bold 48

Avenir Next Medium 36 Avenir Next Regular 36

Avenir Next Regular 48

AVENIR NEXT DEMIBOLD 69 iii. User Interface According to research, when tweens get their first smartphone, parents prefer to give them their old phones. Currently in the US, the most common smartphone that kids are using is Iphone 5c and 6. Interface of this application has been designed for Iphone 6 screen and can be adapted different screen sizes easily. 59

1. First time log in - Welcome Page & Introduction


1.2 First time log in - Settings Overall

1.3 First time log in - Avatar Creation

1.4 First time log in - Social Issue Topic and Hobbies Settings


2.1 Daily log in - Ticket Question

2.1 Daily log in - Friendzone

2.2 Daily log in - Chatroom with Squad


3. Weekend log in - Physically together with squad members

3.1 Weekend log in - Squad challenge question

3.2 Weekend log in - Winner of the week for storytelling


3.3 Weekend log in - Weekly story creation

3.3 Weekend log in - Winner Selection with Evaluation

4.1 After 3 months - Supporters, VR Museum and New Social Media Channels





Daily Log in

Ticket (Question)



1st time Interaction Welcome Page

Log in

User name


User name School



Availability Time Gap Avatar Creation

Keep Me Logged in




My path


My Squad


Friendzone Chatroom



Nick name

1st time settings

Avatar Creation



Create your avatar Who are you? Artist Inf

Sports Inf

Leader Inf

Heroes Inf

Star Infleuncer Hobbies Done Storytelling

Create your avatar

2 What do you do?




Fine Arts


Literature POP UP INFO

History Done





Mental Health




Choose your social

3 responsibility topic



Ticket (Question)

Find a way to

4 raise your voice Bullying

Brands Ambassador

Your Squad is ready

5 according to preferences Results

My Squad Preferences

Terms & Conditions




Settings Notifications

My path







Verbals Questions Join Chat






Dices News

Timeline Create an event


Add frame


Search by name


New Connection



Suggestion 1

Avatar match

Suggestion 2

School match

Suggestion 3

Create a Chat







Send connection request

Hobby match



Add topic

Invite Friends


Type friend


Current Rooms

Send code

School Type new Visual

Pick Room



Room 1 Ask to Join

Room 2 Room 3



Input Button Checkbox Option selection

action True or False


information Change the priority




Already signed up

1st time Interaction POP UP INFO

Welcome Page

Sign Up

Create user name/email Create Password Keep me logged in Done Already signed up-Log in

Terms & Conditions




2 Child’s Information

Parental Information

Child Habits Please checkmark if you match


I am concerned about my childs’ sleeping habits I am concerned about my childs’ eating habits

My Role

I am concerned about my childs’ cognitive learning skills

Date of Birth

I am concerned about my childs’ school performance

Favorite activity with kid

I am concerned about my childs’ mood changes

Add more members

I am concerned about my childs’ attention span


I am concerned about my childs’ reaction to the unexpected My child does not know about her own talents

1 My Habits

Parental Information I spend too much time on social media and internet

I could be a better role model for my child with less use of internet

Results Optimal order

1. Accessibility & Emergency 2. Time Management & Concentration

My child makes friends easily

3. Inappropriate content & Privacy

My child spent too much time with technological devices

4. Cyberbullying & Emotions



I am conscious and educated enough about the risks of SMA.

2 Child’s Information


Child Habits

2 Child’s Information Child Info

Please rate according to your child [from 1 to 5 higher]


Mood Changes Self-esteem

Optimal order

Feedback frequency Feedback availability [day-time]


Add family member for feedback


Subscribe weekly blog


Track my habits



Name Surname Gender




Current School Physical Health Specification

2 Child’s Information

if there is any


Mental Health Specification

if there is any

Technological Devices

if there is any


Child Habits Please rate according to your child [from 1 to 5 higher]

Procrastination Dependability Extraversion Laziness Following the rules Done

Sign up For your child

Create user name Create password Accept



Call child


My profile


Call child

My profile

My Child

Check your habit data

My habits Self quiz

Peers’ Blog Notifications

Call child

My child


Check your child’s data

Events Send common memory to your child

Send memory Activity request

Terms & Conditions

Call child

Peers Blog

My squad peers


Peer 1


Peer 2


Peer 3

Create a post

Peer 4



Input Button Checkbox Option selection

action True or False


information Change the priority

REFERENCES Primary Research - Interview Script Full script of an interview with different people can be found from this link below. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eX4cYFuwVWv-Moh2K-8j_Sdw4BgcsDRi/view?usp=sharing

Instagram Poll https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eX4cYFuwVWv-Moh2K-8j_Sdw4BgcsDRi/view?usp=sharing

Design Details + AB Testing Interview Script Full script of an interview with different people can be found from this link below. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eX4cYFuwVWv-Moh2K-8j_Sdw4BgcsDRi/view?usp=sharing

Bibliography Full script of my bibliography can be found from this link below. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1eX4cYFuwVWv-Moh2K-8j_Sdw4BgcsDRi/view?usp=sharing


Profile for belfug sener


CCS MFA Integrated Design Thesis


CCS MFA Integrated Design Thesis