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Problematic Aspects of Being Permanently Online and Permanently Connected: Do the Costs Outweigh the Advantages?

Mon, May 25, 10:30 to 11:45, Caribe Hilton, San Cristobal Ballroom G

Session Submission Type: Panel


With young people staring at their smart devices most of the day, daily routines change because the user’s attention constantly switches between a device and things happening around. Fully undivided attention for another person or an event seems to become rare. On the one hand, people appreciate the advantages of mobile smart devices, like easily connecting to others, and receiving information at a fingertip. But on the other hand, these advantages come at costs, like the lack of attention for the offline environment. In this panel, we want to explore the phenomenon of being permanently online (PO) and permanently connected (PC), with a specific focus on children and adolescents. Furthermore, our interest is on problematic aspects and costs of POPC that users accept while enjoying the advantages of online mobile media.
The authors in the panel collaboratively defined being permanently online as the constant use of online content while engaging in other activities. In contrast, being permanently connected focuses on online social interaction with other users (Vorderer & Kohring, 2013). POPC is conceptualized as a two-dimensional construct: The first dimension comprises the actual behavior while the second dimension reflects the psychological state of permanent communicative vigilance.
The aim of this panel is not a mere presentation of single study results, but giving impulses through four short presentations and a respondent’s critical statement for inducing a discussion on POPC costs in the plenary (controversy). The panel clearly differs from a paper session in the strong previous collaborative work of the presenters (cooperation in papers 1, 2, 4). Moreover, the results of the controversy will be recorded and used in an application for a research unit in Germany in 2015.
The four contributions to the panel cover aspects of (problematic) POPC use from various perspectives. The first paper introduces the POPC topic generally by presenting cross-national study results on university students’ POPC usage and related norms in the US, Germany, and the Netherlands. The second paper focuses on perceived problematic aspects of POPC in the Dutch student sample, aiming at the identification of risk factors. The third paper looks into smart device usage patterns of German school children aged 13 to 16 and their negative influence on well-being and school performance. The fourth paper presents data on students’ coping strategies (amount of texting) and their feelings about a permanent connectedness, as well as feelings about a temporary loss of Internet access.

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