Electronic and social media have now become a staple of modern life. In a world of digitalisation, human lives have become less laborious, and yet more complex at the same time. We now have access to all information in the palm of our hands and at the touch of a finger, and of our own choosing, are on constant display to the world. While the benefits of this digitalisation remains indisputable, we are also beginning to see it take its toll on the quality of human lives and relationships. It is this impact that I am interested in understanding through my PhD.
Rooted in the fields of Developmental, Clinical and Health Psychology, my research explores the relationships between electronic and social media use, sleep and the mental health and wellbeing, particularly of adolescents and young adults. Along the course of this PhD, I hope to uncover (a) the impact that electronic and social media has on mood and wellbeing; (b) the impact that electronic and social media has on sleep, especially when used in the last hours before going to bed; and (c) the role that sleep can play in mediating the effects of electronic and social media use on mental health and wellbeing.
By disentangling and understanding these complex relationships, my work aims to inform the design of interventions built to improve sleep management, duration and quality as well as interventions aimed to improve media savviness for adolescents and young adults, with the overarching goal to ultimately improve the mental wellbeing of this population.
Alongside my PhD, I am also involved in the Student Mental Health and Resilience in Transition (SMaRT) project, which is spearheaded by some members of the Lifespan, Health and Wellbeing Group in the Department of Psychology. The primary objective of the SMaRT initiative is to understand the risk and protective factors that contribute towards the mental health and wellbeing of University students as they transition to, through and from University. For more information about this initiative (including a full report on our first study), please visit the SMaRT webpage.