Alecka Camp

Westfield State University junior Alecka Camp believes she is like a typical college student when it comes to relying on—but also complaining about—social media.

She notes that apps like Snapchat, Yik Yak and others can eat away at students’ free time.

“If so many of us complain about social media, then why do we keep using it day after day? Why not just stop using it?” she wondered.

With a reliance on social media seemingly increasing, Camp, a psychology major with a minor in communications, started questioning if it’s taking a toll on their experiences as students, or worse yet, harming their psychological well-being.

Camp took her curiosity to the next level and began investigating the impact of social media on college students. Initially using an online survey, she conducted a study that examines links between social networking sites and social media applications and well-being. Specifically, she looked into the effects of social media apps accessed through a smartphone.

Survey participants were undergraduates from a liberal arts state university who completed a self-report survey that covered questions about whether the amount of time spent on Mobile Social Media Applications (MSMAs) is linked with mood, burnout and well-being. Camp created the questionnaire on SurveyGizmo, an online survey software tool.

Assistant psychology professors Rebecca Burwell, PhD, and Summer Williams, PhD, worked with Camp on her research. Burwell praised her for bringing a level of autonomy to the project by setting up the online survey on her own.

“Alecka has been very passionate about the topic…and has brought enthusiasm, energy, and insight into the project, and commitment,” Burwell said. “And a keen desire to better understand connections between MSMA’s and student well-being.”

Williams added, “Alecka combined her interests in psychology and communications to develop her ideas for her current research. She has great curiosity about mobile device applications and their connection, if any, to student health-related outcomes.”

Having just finished data collection, Camp presented her findings to date as an e-poster at the 22nd annual Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference at the University of Massachusetts in April.

That opportunity boded well for Camp, who described herself as “very quiet and soft-spoken” when she first started at Westfield State. That in-the-background persona meant she would avoid class presentations and not raise her hand in class—even if she knew the answer. Acknowledging that she needed to work on a having a comfort level with public speaking, Camp now feels that the conference presentation will help prepare her for her career.

“Every time I am faced with a bigger and bigger crowd to present to, I get nervous beyond belief, but I end up pulling myself together,” she said. “I think that my poster presentation at the conference, while one of the scariest presentations I’ve come to yet, will absolutely prepare me for years to come.”