On Friday, March 30, the Psychology department hosted a department-wide tea. The tea was titled “Technology and You: The Psychology of our Connected World.” There were three professors who served as panelists, introducing the department to a new format of these teas.

The professors of the department were thrilled to see the classroom filled with interested and excited students who came out to provide their input and opinions on this ever-so-relevant topic in the psychology world today: the impact of technology and social media on our well-being.

The discussion was prefaced with the concept that none of these professors were necessarily experts in the field of technology in its connection to psychology, but that they had an interest in connecting their field of expertise to this area of study.

The panelists included Dr. Seth Chin-Parker, Dr. Kristina Steiner and Dr. Erin Henshaw. Dr. Seth-Chin Parker specializes in thinking and cognition, Dr. Kristina Steiner in autobiographical memory and development and Dr. Erin Henshaw in clinical psychology and mental health.

Each of the professors began the panel by posing the topics of technology and psychology that they were interested in. They took a deeper look into them before opening the floor to the class. By incorporating three very different areas of psychology, the room was able to cooperate to see the differences and overlaps of these individual fields of study.

Dr. Chin-Parker set the room up with a contextual rooting in thinking about how people process things within the environment they live in, and how technology might be changing this way of thinking and processing abilities.

Dr. Steiner then encouraged the room of psychology students and faculty to think about how technology is affecting the way that stories are retold, and then from more of a developmental framework, what implications social media has on the way children are developing.

Justin Cancel ‘18 had the participants think about the idea of the amount of friends we have on social media. Have you ever gone into your Facebook and noticed that you have thousands of friends, but once you start skimming through the list, realized you don’t even know half those people? What implications may this have on how we are developing socially?

This encouraged some more conversation about the different frameworks of control and effort that people put into their social media activity. The different outcomes for those of us that have thousands of virtual friends versus those of us who may have hundreds were discussed.

Dr. Henshaw brought up many ideas about how technology and social media affects society’s mental health, and how it has negative implications, as many of us assume and have heard. There can also be positive implications though, depending on how the person uses social media.

The same amount of screentime by two people could have drastically different effects, depending on if they are more active in their use, posting photos or status updates, or if they are using social media more to see what their peers and others are up to.

The tea did not aim to come to any conclusions by the end, but instead was more focused on gaining a sense of how we differ so much from one another in the way we use and are affected by technology and social media.

In reaction to the department hosting the tea, Anthony Bruno ‘20 said, “It was great to have an open discussion with my peers and members of the psychology department about the integration of technology into human development and thinking.”

So on your own, think about how has technology affected you as a person. Have you felt that you are different from your peers because of the way in which you choose to use social media?