The purpose of this assignment is to make you aware of your use of communication technologies/media and the extent to which they are integrated into your daily routine and habits. Specifically, the assignment is intended to (a) enhance your awareness of the uses, functions, and gratifications of communication technology use, and (b) serve as a vehicle for self-discovery whereby you closely examine taken-for-granted aspects of your personal media technology dependency.
This assignment has 3 phases. Please read through all of them before starting phase 1 as you will need to plan ahead.
For Phase 1, you need to record a diary of your media use for 24 hours. This includes all types of media: Cable and network TV, Netflix, radio, computer, smartphones, games, Internet. You need to record your hour-to-hour of media use for each day:
- What medium/technology did you use?
- What time during the day did you use it?
- How long did you use it for?
- What did you use the medium for and what was the result? (See below for some examples of common gratifications)*
- Which medium/technology emerges as your preferred medium/technology?
Sample media diary entry: You can copy and paste this table into your assignment document (add rows as needed):
|Medium||Time of day||Length of time used||Purpose of use|
|Checked email on my iPhone||5:30 am||2 minutes||To pass the time|
|Watched a video on Youtube on my iPhone||6:15 am||5 minutes||To be entertained|
For Phase 2 of the assignment, you are to undergo a digital detox for 24 hours and take notes about your experience. This means to give up on being digitally connected for an entire day. Pick a day during Week 2 or 3 of classes and unplug for 24 hours from all kinds of electronic media and technology, with the exception for phone and texting (try to limit your use of them as much as possible). Your computer can only be used during these 24 hours for assignment submissions, in case you have deadlines to meet. The purpose of this exercise is to reflect on one of the key concepts covered in CMNS 110 – “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
Think about and take notes on the impact technology have on your life. You will need to submit your notes for this section of the assignment. What happens when you let go of it? How does this make you feel? Why do you think you feel this way? What did you do instead when you were not using any form of digital technology? Did those alternative practices fulfill the same emotional/connective needs? It’s important to keep a diary during these 24 hours to write down the effects of unplugging on your emotions, your psyche, perhaps even on your body.
Writing tip: Imagine you are writing the notes for this section for a blog.
For Phase 3, you need to write a 500-word concise summary of your experience with the first two phases of the assignment: the media diary and the digital detox. In your summary, you should:
- Summarize in 1-2 sentences what you were asked to do. (“For my Introduction to Communication class I was asked to….”)
- Provide an overview of your media technology use. Which medium is your preferred?
- Describe how your preferred medium fits with your overall media use by referring to your
- Describe what uses and gratifications you derive from media technology in general and your preferred medium/activity in
- Discuss other types of activities you replaced your favorite medium with, if any. How did that work out?
- Address how difficult it was to give up your favorite medium for a day. Was it harder than you thought it would be? Did the particular days you gave it up matter in any special way? Did not using your favorite medium, or media technology in general, affect your interpersonal relationships with others? If so, how and why? Was it because you felt bored, anxious, out of touch, or something else?
Examples of uses and gratifications of media:
To relax Escaping from problems and worries
To be entertained Entering into an imaginary world To forget about work or other things Diversion or passing the time
To have something to do with friends Identifying/empathizing with others To pass the time, especially when bored Reducing personal insecurity
To feel excited Emotional release
To feel less lonely Substitution for social contact To get someone to do something for me Getting information and advice To communicate with others Feeling connected with others
To learn things about myself and others Resolving ambiguity or uncertainty Finding support for your values
Gaining insight into your life
For your assignment, submit the media diary (in table format), your reflection notes, and the 500-word written summary (double-spaced) of your experience.