"Using Ecological Momentary Assessment and Logged Data to Explore Emerging Adults’ Mobile Use, Mood, and Stress"
Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) Biennial Meeting
April 12-14, 2018
Presentation Title: "Using Ecological Momentary Assessment and Logged Data to Explore Emerging Adults’ Mobile Use, Mood, and Stress" (paper)
Authors: Joanna C. Yau, Melissa N. Callaghan, Stephanie M. Reich, Yiran Wang, Gloria Mark
The majority of youth in the United States interact with their friends in digital spaces (Lenhart, 2015), leading to a plethora of studies on the effect of media use on socio-emotional outcomes such as well-being and self-esteem (Valkenburg, Peter, & Schouten, 2006). Two challenges of such studies are obtaining accurate estimates of use—self-report estimates are often inaccurate (Junco, 2013) –and determining the temporal order in the relationship between technology use and socio-emotional outcomes. One approach is to couple logged data from mobile devices, enabling researchers to capture real-time use, and connect it to reports of socio-emotional outcomes through Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). Using logging software on participants’ phones for 7 days and pairing it with hourly (waking) EMA data, we demonstrate how messaging app use is temporally related to mood and stress.
We explored the texting behaviors of 119 undergraduate students. Participants averaged 19.44 years of age (SD=1.45). The AWARE Framework, which logs app use and URLs visited, was installed onto participants’ phones for the duration of the study period (i.e. one week). The apps and URLs were later organized into messaging (e.g. text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat) and non-messaging (e.g. Facebook, calendar) categories. The AWARE Framework also indicated when participants accessed these apps and recording the duration of use. EMA was collected via push notification on participants’ phones to record current activities, mood, and stress levels hourly. Data were collected for a week with complete logged data.
In order to assess the relationship between texting and mood and stress, we used each time-stamped messaging use as an event. We then identified EMA ratings that occurred in the preceding or proceeding ten minutes (total 20 minute time frame). Specifically, we were interested in comparing the mood and stress ratings preceding a text (i.e., does mood or stress predict texting) as well as following a text (i.e., does texting predict mood or stress). Ten minutes was selected because it is long enough that there may be variation between observations, but brief enough that the effects of messaging on stress/mood and vice versa may not have worn off.
Using multi-level models we assessed associations between messaging and changes in mood and stress. First, we found that texting reduced stress (β=-0.03; p=0.03), but the effect disappeared when participants’ current activities were added as covariates. Surprisingly, messaging while interacting face-to-face was associated with higher stress (β=0.06; p=0.01), but with greater mood when participants were studying (β=0.06; p=0.04). Thus, well-being and messaging are related but their association is greatly influenced by the context.
Through innovative and real-time data collection techniques, we gain a better understanding of emerging adults’ social media ecology. Messaging is a frequent daily occurrence in adolescents’ and emerging adults’ lives. This study identifies one way to use mobile technology to better understand its role in young people’s well-being.