KU News: In-person socialization down, but social media isn’t to blame, researcher says

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In-person socialization down, but social media isn’t to blame, researcher says
LAWRENCE – Jeffrey Hall is passionate about two things in particular – friendship and social media – and he thinks the latter is too often mistaken as the enemy of the former.
His latest article reviews the best available evidence to debunk the “social displacement hypothesis” that holds that use of mobile and social media is the cause of decreased face-to-face (FtF) interaction. In doing so, he uncovered a worrisome trend: In the United States, Great Britain and Australia, there has been a steady, uniform decline in FtF time that began well before the rise of social media.

Six years running, KU makes Phi Theta Kappa’s transfer honor roll
LAWRENCE — For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Kansas has been recognized for excellence in community college transfer by a national honor society. KU is one of 171 colleges and universities named to Phi Theta Kappa’s 2022 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes excellence in the development of transfer pathways. This honor is awarded to the top 25% of colleges that earned the highest Transfer Friendliness Ratings by completing a Transfer Profile in PTK Connect.

KU Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science inducts inaugural class of Distinguished Service Award winners
LAWRENCE — A man who revolutionized the way the world views maps online and another who was a pioneer in computing on the University of Kansas campus are the first two recipients of the KU EECS Distinguished Service (KEDS) Award from the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. Brian McClendon and the late Dale Rummer were honored during the department’s graduation dinner and awards ceremony April 28.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Rick Hellman, KU News Service, 785-864-8852, [email protected], @RickHellman
In-person socialization down, but social media isn’t to blame, researcher says

LAWRENCE – Jeffrey Hall is passionate about two things in particular – friendship and social media – and he thinks the latter is too often mistaken as the enemy of the former.
His latest article reviews the best available evidence to debunk the “social displacement hypothesis” that holds that use of mobile and social media is the cause of decreased face-to-face (FtF) interaction. In doing so, he uncovered a worrisome trend: In the United States, Great Britain and Australia, there has been a steady, uniform decline in FtF time that began well before the rise of social media. This new analysis shows the decline continued through the stay-at-home orders and social distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hall, a professor of communication studies and director of the Relationships and Technology Lab at the University of Kansas, and his co-author, Dong Liu of Renmin University in China, take on that notion in a new paper titled “Social media use, social displacement, and well-being” in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology.
“The social displacement hypothesis is probably the most well-known, long-lasting explanation for where time spent using new technologies — from the internet to texting, and now social media — comes from,” Hall said. “The social displacement argument says that new media cuts into our face-to-face time. The best available evidence suggests it’s just not so.”
Hall took data on FtF time from the U.S. Department of Labor’s annual American Time Use Survey and from similar governmental studies in Australia and Great Britain between 1995 and 2021 and plotted them on a single chart. All three lines decline over time at a similar rate.
“Yes,” Hall said, “it’s the case that social media rates of consumption have grown across demographic groups and across the world. Yes, it’s the case that face-to-face time has declined. However, it’s not the case it takes from face-to-face time.”
If the evidence doesn’t support the social displacement theory, then where is the time for increased social media use coming from?
“We’re seeing a transformation of where people are putting their attention,” Hall said. Noting that TikTok and YouTube are increasingly popular outlets for watching streaming content, Hall suggests social media time is likely borrowing from time spent watching TV, which, for decades, has been a major place where Americans spend their time. “Social media time is also borrowing from time at work or doing household chores,” Hall said.
And, Hall said, friendship and social media are not enemies.
“Social media can be used in many friendship-promoting ways, especially now that many people use messaging programs supported by social media platforms,” he said.
“Social people are active both online and offline,” the authors wrote.
The paper reported new analysis showing that FtF time has declined across three countries in a similar fashion.
“The fact that the U.K. data track U.S. data so tightly despite using slightly different methods in different years is surprising,” Hall said.
This international trend of reduced time in face-to-face communication may reflect growing rates of loneliness, according to the authors.
Hall’s analysis showed that these trends of declining face-to-face communication existed well before the pandemic, and the pandemic may have exacerbated some of them. When people had some time back because they weren’t commuting to work or able to go out as much, they didn’t turn to face-to-face communication.
“What’s discouraging about that,” Hall said, “is even when people have time, they don’t seem to use it in a way that promotes their social health.”
Noting the widespread evidence that FtF socialization is beneficial to well-being, “We’re not on the right path to being able to reclaim that face-to-face time,” Hall said, “at least in these three nations.”
Why is FtF time declining?
“The best available evidence suggests face-to-face is in competition with hours spent at work and commuting,” Hall said. In other words, people who work longer spend more of their leisure time alone. During the pandemic, when people got that time back from commuting, “They still spent it working virtually,” Hall said. “They didn’t spend it socializing with each other.
“It seems we live in a society that privileges working and media consumption over everything else,” Hall said. “The decline in face-to-face time is a matter of priority and a matter of availability. And we are neither prioritizing face-to-face time, nor are we available to do so.”
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Contact: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, KU News Service, 785-864-8858, [email protected], @ebpkansas
Six years running, KU makes Phi Theta Kappa’s transfer honor roll
LAWRENCE — For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Kansas has been recognized for excellence in community college transfer by a national honor society.
KU is one of 171 colleges and universities named to Phi Theta Kappa’s 2022 Transfer Honor Roll, which recognizes excellence in the development of transfer pathways. This honor is awarded to the top 25% of colleges that earned the highest Transfer Friendliness Ratings by completing a Transfer Profile in PTK Connect.
Honor roll members were scored on criteria like admissions practices, cost of attendance, campus life, recruitment practices and peer reviews.
“Effectively attracting and serving students who begin their college careers at community colleges is increasingly important to KU,” said Matt Melvin, vice provost for enrollment management. “Making Phi Theta Kappa’s Transfer Roll for the sixth time in a row is an outcome associated with the importance we place on transfer students. We want and encourage community college students to continue their educational careers at KU whether through the campus in Lawrence, the Edwards Campus, KU online or through a combination of delivery modes.”
Approximately 25% of students entering KU each fall are transfer students. That population continues to be an area of emphasis for the university and an important part of KU’s diversity strategy.
Many schools lump transfer students into the general freshman visit events, and if they do have a program for transfer students, such events are offered a few times a year. In contrast, KU has an admissions representative who works specifically with the transfer student population.
KU offers both in-person and virtual visit options for transfer students with a Transfer Friday visit opportunity to learn about transferring to KU. Details and registration can be found at admissions.ku.edu/visit.
Other ways KU continues to build relationships with transfer students:
1. Increasing level of personalization with one-on-one in-person or virtual appointments with admissions representatives focused specifically on transfer students
2. A CredTran webpage that allows prospective students to see how coursework from other institutions will transfer to KU and community college transfer guides that offer detailed information on how to transition to KU from local community colleges
3. Personalized outreach to new transfer students to prepare for academic advising and enrollment conversations
4. Offering a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship that is only available to transfer students
5. The KU Edwards Campus Honors Program, an extension of KU’s esteemed University Honors Program, with an eye toward community college transfer students who participated in a community college honors program
6. KU Edwards Campus Transfer Communities, which provide joint co-curricular programming for community college and KU students as well as peer mentoring
7. Granting credit hours for military service
8. The Degree in 3 program, which allows students from partner high schools and community colleges to earn their degree from KU in three years, and degree completion programs that can be completed through multiple delivery modes and locations
9. Continuing to launch in-demand degree-completion programs, such as the new Bachelor of Health Sciences and bachelor’s degrees in project management.

KU’s efforts to recruit and serve transfer students align with the Kansas Board of Regents systemwide emphasis on transfer and articulation, which is designed to better serve students and families and, ultimately, provide more graduates for the Kansas workforce.

Applications to KU are still being accepted for both summer and fall semesters. To learn more or to apply, visit admissions.ku.edu/i-am/transfer.

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Contact: Cody Howard, School of Engineering, 785-864-2936, [email protected], @kuengineering
KU Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science inducts inaugural class of Distinguished Service Award winners
LAWRENCE — A man who revolutionized the way the world views maps online and another who was a pioneer in computing on the University of Kansas campus are the first two recipients of the KU EECS Distinguished Service (KEDS) Award from the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.
Brian McClendon and the late Dale Rummer were honored during the department’s graduation dinner and awards ceremony April 28.
“The KU EECS department has an impressive and growing list of distinguished alumni and associates over its rich history, which spans over 130 years,” said Brian Ruf, KU EECS advisory board chair, when the department unveiled the award in February. “We felt that it was time to begin to more formally acknowledge and celebrate these individuals and their accomplishments.”
About the winners:
Brian McClendon (bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, 1986) started his professional job with Intergraph Corporation; he spent eight years developing high-end workstation 3D graphics. In 2011, he was one of the original investors in Keyhole Inc., a software visualization application, where he was the vice president of engineering. Google acquired Keyhole in 2004, and its main application suite Earth Viewer formed the basis of Google Earth. McClendon served as vice president of engineering at Google for 10 years. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2015 for his strategic, technical and managerial leadership resulting in widespread geographic information. McClendon holds 40 patents. He has given back to KU in terms of his time, talent, means and energy. McClendon is a longtime member of the advisory board of the EECS department and the School of Engineering, and he serves as a research professor in the EECS department.

Bob Dale Rummer (bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, 1948; doctorate in electrical engineering, 1963) accepted a job at Carter Oil in Tulsa after completing his graduate degree but was drawn back to academia and joined KU as an assistant professor of electrical engineering in 1964. In 1967, Rummer took a leave of absence to work with UNIVAC, at the time a leading computing technology hub. Rummer returned to KU in 1969 and moved to a position as assistant director of systems and software for the Computer Center to help transition KU to a new generation of campus computing. He returned to a full-time faculty position in 1975. After 46 years at KU, Rummer retired as professor emeritus in 1993. He died in 2012. His sons Ken and Bob accepted the award in his memory.

The EECS department established the new award, the KU EECS Distinguished Service (KEDS) award, in February 2022 to recognize distinguished alumni and dedicated associates of the department.

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KU News Service
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Lawrence KS 66045
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Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

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