The Facebook Challenge – Written Spring 2010

We’ve all done it – stayed on Facebook for hours (or, in some cases, days) on end when we have productive tasks to adhere to. Whether we are guilty of constant status changes, endless chatting, or just plain “creepin”, we have committed a sin regarding Facebook, the worldwide phenomenon that has been labeled as some by “too addicting” or a “distraction”. But even if this Myspace-replacing trend is labeled as so, does it really take a detrimental toll on one’s grades and duties? Can it possibly affect one’s psychological wellness? Andrea Garavaglia, a third year Psychology major, and Amanda Colon, a third year English and Psychology major, will hopefully find the answers to such questions and more in their study dubbed “The Facebook Challenge”. In this experiment, half of the participants will give up Facebook for the month of February, while the other half is permitted to use it. In March, the roles are reversed as the group who was banned from the enslaving website is authorized to use it while the other group becomes prohibited to using it. Both groups participate for two months, yet are only requested to give up Facebook for the time span of a month. Applicants are required to answer questionnaires throughout the process, which occur in the beginning, middle, and end of each month. In order to ensure that students wouldn’t “cheat” in during the process, students are required to have their password changed. Although the topic of changing passwords has been described as “touchy”, Amanda offers reassurance: “We developed a method of changing their passwords that would be confidential and students would be able to retrieve it at any times if they no longer wanted to continue on in the study. Andi and I would be supervised by a professor in the process. We understand that students may be a bit weary of having two students change their passwords, so they will be given the option not to, though it is encouraged that they do. In that case, there will have to be some kind of honesty code.” Students can also leave the study anytime they want, and are entailed to tell the experimenters if they do log in online.

Amanda also explains that there exists multiple hypotheses which are described as being kept “pretty open ended”. One example is the matter of stress and whether or not it will be affected by the absence of Facebook. About six variables will be assessed, most of them pertaining to the topic of one’s psychological mental state. Although they will not necessarily be answering questionnaires, Andi and Amanda will remove themselves from Facebook for one month. When asked if she had the willpower to partake in such an experiment, Amanda replied with confidence: “Yes, I actually do think I have the willpower to do the experiment myself. In fact, that is exactly where the entire idea came from. In class last semester, I was discussing with Andi how I had banned myself from Facebook for about three weeks. I noticed that I was using the website so much that I’d neglect doing my homework and I was failing to get important things done. Five minutes after class had ended, I received a call from Andi and she thought that studying the effects of Facebook on college students would be an interesting thing to see. And so the Facebook challenge was born!”

If you feel that you have the same willpower as Amanda and are willing to partake in this study, contact her or Andrea via email (not Facebook!). On Wednesday, February 3rd, an information session will take place in room 25 L of the basement library. Further details of the study will be conversed there. On Saturday, February 6th from 11 am to 4 pm and Sunday February 7th from 4pm to 8:45 pm, the partakers must meet in Flagler room 313. During these days, a packet of questionnaires will be handed out. Starting on February 8th, half the contestants will be selected at random to avoid Facebook during February while the other half will be permitted to use the website. As stated before, vice versa occurs in March. Amanda adds, “We encourage all students to give this study a chance. Andi and I are very passionate about what we are doing and we think this will be a fun and interesting thing to see across campus. I wonder how students will communicate outside of a Facebook chat or a status box.” Time will only tell – ladies and gentlemen, keep your eyes out for a follow up article on the results of this study.

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