Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Digital Divide

The concept of the "the digital divide" looks at the gap between those who can and cannot access information through technological means. This often leads to economic and social inequality based on the lack of access to information and resources that Internet capabilities provide. The question of the week was: "What social/economic forces shape communication infrastructure?" The digital divide looks at both social and economic variables as it examines which areas in the United States have more broadband access than others, as well as the general demographics of the people who live in the areas that receive certain levels of this access.

The digital divide is most prevalent throughout the United States when looking at rural vs. urban areas. According to Whitacre of phys.org, as of 2015 "74% of households in residential urban areas in the US had broadband connections compared to 64% of rural households". There is an obvious increase in broadband connections for those residing in urban areas. Most scholars look at demographics as one of the main reasons why there is this gap. Some social factors such as race, family income and the level of educational attainment play a further role in the digital divide. From a general standpoint, "certain residents face a larger digital divide than others" (Carlson, 2016). Residents of a minority race, lower family incomes, and those who have lower educational attainment are less likely to access this information.

From an economic standpoint, telecommunication companies also decide whether to install lines by looking at physical factors, such as distance. If there are less people in the area, it would be a greater distance to provide access to, and fewer residents to share the cost.

In summary, the access to technology and information depends on whether a person is living in a rural or urban area, with other social and economic factors taken into consideration. These play a role in the actual development and access to communication infrastructure, as well as an individual's ability to access beneficial resources and information.

Works Cited:

Carlson, E., & Goss, J. (2016, August 10). The State of the Urban/Rural Digital Divide.
Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

Whitacre, B. (2016, June 9). Technology is improving – why is rural broadband access still
a problem? Retrieved April 18, 2017, from

Monday, April 24, 2017

Grand Theft Auto Violence

Grand Theft Auto is a popular roleplaying video game where you, the main character, get to act out the role of a criminal involved in organized crime. You are given tasks from various mob bosses and kingpins. Grand Theft Auto has garnered a lot of media attention about its possible influence on it's audience, mainly linking gameplay to real life violence. The question of the week is: "Do media have direct effects?". This is related to the question by analyzing the immediate effects Grand Theft Auto may have on its users. According to a study on video game effects done by researchers at Iowa State University, video games and higher aggression showed to have a correlation at a high level (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). However, according to a different study published in a Media Psychology journal, video games and violence have a very small amount of correlation, also suggesting that there is no proof of causation (Weber, Ritterfeld, & Mathiak, 2006). Although there is a debate on to what extent video games has on its users, Grand Theft Auto has come to the forefront of the debate with many lawsuits having been filed against the franchise. This suggests that although not completely backed by scientific research, societies feelings on the franchises message have had a direct effect on who they perceive is to blame for violence.

Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition,
            aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific 
            literature. Psychological science12(5), 353-359.
Griffiths, M. (2015, February 20). Video game bans: the debate about guns, GTA, and real-life violence. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/video-game-bans-the-debate-about-guns-gta-and-real-life-violence-10057296.html
Griffiths, S. (2013, October 10). 'Granddad' Theft Auto: Middle-class, middle-aged parents are most likely to play violent crime game. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2451785/Grand-Theft-Auto-Middle-class-middle-aged-parents-likely-play-game.html
Greenwood, D. (2010, June 22). Grand Theft Auto Is Good for You? Not So Fast... Retrieved April 18, 2017, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/grand-theft-auto-is-good/
Leung, R. (2005, March 08). Can A Video Game Lead To Murder? Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-a-video-game-lead-to-murder-04-03-2005/
Margolin, E. (2013, September 25). Did 'Grand Theft Auto' turn an 8-year-old into a killer? Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.msnbc.com/thomas-roberts/did-grand-theft-auto-turn-8-year-old
Plot Summary. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2017, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0802999/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl
Straubhaar, Joseph, and Robert Larose. (2008). Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture and Technology. Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth Company.
Weber, R., Ritterfeld, U., & Mathiak, K. (2006). Does playing violent video games induce aggression? Empirical evidence of a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Media psychology8(1), 39-60.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Envy, Depression, and Facebook

Question: Do media have "direct effects"?

According to the textbook, media effects are changes in cognition, attitudes, emotions, or behavior that result from exposure to the media. Facebook is a social media site that has potentially negative effects on its users’ emotional states. Research has shown that use of Facebook can lead to higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. This is especially true if these are already pre-existing issues for the user, if the user experiences envy of others on the site, and/or they are using Facebook heavily. College students are at particular risk for such depression, due to the fact that they “may still be struggling to establish their identities apart from their families, and, consequently, may be more susceptible to peer influences” (Steers, 2014). 

It is not just scholars who are noticing these effects on Facebook users. In recent times, there has been an increase in helpful articles such as “What To Do If Facebook Makes You Feel Depressed” and in users posting on forums about their struggles with depression and Facebook envy. There are, of course, also many positive effects of connecting with others on social media. However, it is important to be aware of how social media use can be negatively affecting your emotional state and others’.

Some more information can be found at the following links:

Facebook World Stats and Penetration in the World - Facebook Statistics 2016. (2017, March 6). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.internetworldstats.com/facebook.htm
Labrague, L. J. (2014). Facebook use and adolescents' emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Health Science Journal8(1), 80-89.
Steers, M. N., Wickham, R. E., & Acitelli, L. K. (2014). Seeing Everyone Else's Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms. Journal Of Social & Clinical Psychology33(8), 701-731.
Social media makes me feel even worse about myself. (2016, June 27). [Online Forum]. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.reddit.com/r/depression/comments/4q3r3d/social_media_makes_me_feel_even_worse_about_myself/
Tandoc, J. C., Ferrucci, P., & Duffy, M. (2015). Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: Is facebooking depressing?. Computers In Human Behavior43139-146.

Tinder's direct effect on STD increases

I would answer the question of the week “does media have direct effects?” by examining the recent cases of increased STDs in young adults in the United States and internationally have been linked to the fairly new and extremely popular social-media dating app Tinder. This accusation of Tinder causing a direct effect of increased STDs broke news when the Rhode Island department of public health pointed to Tinder as a cause of the increased STDs in young adults in their state, and later other STD epidemics in Utah and Wales according to their departments of public health also blamed Tinder for the increase. The non-profit organization AIDS Healthcare Foundation creates a billboard pointing to the Tinder STD accusations. Tinder refutes the AHF claims, but eventually Tinder creates a health and safety section of their website which includes a STD testing center locator.

  How Tinder presents how to use its app, and how media portrays Tinder is causing the main effects since media makes Tinder appear to be a humorous and safe app that promotes “hook-up culture” to young adults. While media makes Tinder seem like harmless fun, media and how Tinder presents itself is causing direct effects because of the lack of responsibility they take to acknowledge they encourage high-risk sexual behavior and because of this it is leading to direct effects of the increased STD cases.

Work Cited:
Bull, S., & McFarlane, M. (2000). Soliciting sex on the Internet: What are the risks for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV? Sexually Transmitted Disease, 27(9), 545-50.
Hatch, H. (n.d.). Swipe right for chlamydia: How Tinder is sending STD rates skyrocketing. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://kutv.com/news/local/swipe-right-for-chlamydia-how-tinder-is-sending-std-rates-skyrocketing#.VWcjt9q6fu0
March, E., Grieve, R., Marrington, J., & Jonason, P. K. (2017). Trolling on Tinder® (and other dating apps): Examining the role of the Dark Tetrad and impulsivity. Personality And Individual Differences, 110139-143. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.01.025
Public Health Wales - Public Health Wales warns of syphilis risk. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/news/33044
Reported Cases of STDs on the Rise in the U.S. (2015, November 17). Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2015/std-surveillance-report-press-release.html
Rhode Island Department of Public Health. (2015, May 22). HEALTH Releases New Data on Infectious Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and HIV. Retrieved April 1
Sumter, S. R., Vandenbosch, L., & Ligtenberg, L. (2017). Love me Tinder: Untangling emerging adults’ motivations for using the dating application Tinder. Telematics and Informatics, 34(1), 67-78. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2016.04.009
White, D. (2016, January 22). Tinder Adds STD Testing Center Locator to Dating App. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://time.com/4190222/tinder-adds-std-testing-center-locator/

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Verizon V. The FCC

In the case of Verizon v. The FCC an important precedent was set with regards to Open Internet Rules and Net Neutrality. The courts dictated that the FCC did not have the right to regulate Verizon as an internet carrier in its entirety with regards to Net Neutrality. This meant that Verizon was allowed to self regulate prices when it comes to package prices of internet. Now despite the fact that the courts have since overturned that ruling and declared internet providers “utilities” thereby changing the way they are legally classified. The current head of the FCC, as appointed by president Donald Trump, Ajit Pai has spoken about attempting to deregulated the internet service providers and allow them to completely privatize. Verizon V. The FCC set the precedent for how Director Pai will follow through with this policy change. This change in Net Neutrality policy could be detrimental to the culture of the Internet as we know it. Internet Service providers will inevitably monopolize, jacking prices for internet packages through the roof thereby inflating the internet market and hurting the consumer. If Net Neutrality is not upheld, it is possible that the internet as we know it today could change forever and not for the better with regards to the consumer, surely something must change.

Telecom: Importance of Smartphones in Terrorist Attacks

When conducting research for the question of the week which was, What social/economic forces shape communication infrastructure, I decided to show the importance of global networking and how that benefits society as a whole when it comes to terrorist attacks. I believe that all of the benefits of smartphones like live footage, social media coverage, global support and even just knowledge about the tragedy itself is a key component of communication infrastructure.

The way we communicate globally is a powerful social force that can positively impact the relationships and bonds of nations. When 9/11 happened in 2011, it showed how fast the nation acted when it came to making sure people could get into contact with their loved ones and making sure that emergency services were always available. IRCs make it to where international contact is possible and we can even see now how much that access has grown.

Through apps that are easily accessible with our smartphones, we are able to receive information immediately and keep up with worldwide happenings, like terrorist attacks. We can show support through social media and try to connect with them on an emotional level by seeing live footage of what actually happened. One question asked in class was if we sometimes use this support just to fit in and not because we actually “support” them. I definitely think that we can get ahead of ourselves when using technology, but all in all, I think the support most people show does more good than bad which can really impact our global network in a positive way.

Apple versus Android in Mobile Privacy

My core argument is that our values and what we care about as a society are changing the invention and use of new technology. My generation is more accustomed to putting their information out into the internet because of how we grew up, and the world we grew up in. We grew up using social media and the internet, and as we evolved and changed, so did the internet. Our society and our way of life changed a drastic amount of our infrastructure, by allowing companies to use our newly gained social values for economic purposes. We as a society made it okay for companies to gather our information and monetize it. Our phones, and the apps we use through them, play a huge part in gathering and storing our information. This information is then used to shape the world around us. For example, Apple and Android are the most used operating systems for mobile devices, and therefore are created around the fact that they can be used for gathering and storing information from billions of people. Apple and Android share different views when it comes to the information of their users. According to, Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Apple does as much as they can to keep information private, to the point where they can't even see it, Android, openly collects data, stores it, and analyzes it for whatever means they could use it for. Google's former CEO Eric Schmidt declared: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place". So as you can see they have different views on the privacy of their users using their products. These statements brought up very good points during the discussion portion of my presentation. Some of my peers were describing how even though we know it is happening, we still use it either way. I thought this was a very good point, considering how much information has been leaked to the public on topics such as this one, because even after all of the information is out there, not enough people seem to care about it because it is so ingrained in our entire way of life. So to answer the question of the week, "What social/economic forces shape communication infrastructure?", we as a society are the force that shapes communication infrastructure through the way we interact with our devices and the internet. We have caused the changes that we see in our phones and other devices. The economic forces that shape our infrastructure rely on our society to continue doing what we are doing so that they are able to continue monetizing our information.

Helpful links: