Are you interested in studying the effects of digital media use on mental health and well-being? We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student who wants to explore the role of social influence processes in the impact of social and mobile media on mental health outcomes.
In this project, you will address the question whether digital media’s “bad image” changes the effects of digital media use on the individual. Users are often exposed to messages (e.g., through news articles or their family members) that suggest that digital media use is bad for them. Such messages can be understood as social influence mechanisms that can impact how users see their own media use (e.g., as good or bad) and might subsequently change media effects. The general aim of this PhD project is to investigate how such social influence mechanisms shape the effects of social and mobile media use on mental health. Thereby, the PhD project seeks to contribute to the ongoing discussion about the effects of social and mobile media use on mental health, especially by providing guidance about what consequences (overly) negative societal views on social and mobile media could have. Would you like to explore these questions together with our supervision team? Then this PhD position might be for you.
The project is part of the Youth and Media Entertainment Programme Group of the Department of Communication Science. In our programme group, we explore the entertaining role of communication in everyday life studying traditional and new forms of entertainment media. Building on a media psychological orientation, the programme group focuses in particular on children and adolescents. The PhD project will be supervised by Dr. Susanne Baumgartner, Dr. Lara Wolfers, and Dr. Ine Beyens. What are you going to do?
You will work on three related studies during this PhD project. The project is currently planned to include (1) a representative survey study, (2) a diary study, and (3) an experience sampling study. In the first study, you will develop a questionnaire to investigate how different social influence mechanisms such as direct communication or media reporting impact users’ perception of their social media use (e.g., problematic or not?) and investigate who is the most susceptible to social influence. The later studies are planned to focus on the most susceptible user group. In the daily diary study, you will investigate how social influence impacts users’ perceptions of their social and mobile media use in everyday life. Finally, in the experience sampling study, you will compare the influence of users’ social and mobile media use perceptions to the influence of users’ objectively measured social and mobile media use duration and frequency on mental health. You will
- Create, field, and analyze a representative survey study to assess the role of social influence on social media perceptions
- Review and synthesize the literature surrounding the impact of perceived social and mobile media use on mental health outcomes
- Design, conduct, and analyze intensive longitudinal data studies assessing social influence processes directly in everyday life using daily diaries, experience sampling, and data donation methods
- Write up findings for publications in high-impact scientific journals and presenting them at (inter)national conferences.