Vanessa Caba Machado

School of Psychology

Thesis title:

Technology use: implications for subjective well-being, mental health and academic performance.

Supervisory team:

Dr David McIlroy, Dr Rebecca Murphy and Dr Susan Palmer-Conn

Summary of PhD:

Stephen Hawking said that advances in science and technology could lead to the end of the world. In the words of the famous physicist, this progress is not going to be stopped or reversed, so recognising the dangers and controlling them is key in this age of rapid technology development. Nowadays, technology is becoming an important part of the life of all ages worldwide. People feel attached to their smartphones (Lepp, Li, Barkley, & Salehi-Esfahani, 2015). For instance, data from the Pew Research Center shows that 46% of smartphone owners asserted that they could not live without their smartphones (Smith, 2015). As students are the most active and enthusiastic users of technology, its effects on different aspects of their lives becomes an increasingly important research question (Wentworth & Middleton, 2014). Therefore, this project aims to understand widely the relationships between technology use, academic performance, anxiety and well-being in university students, as those are important life domains for this population. In addition, a measurement tool of digital technology usage will be constructed to: (1) operationalise technology use, considered within a wide range of functions and electronic devices; (2) capture students’ perceptions towards technology use in relation to the studied constructs; and, (3) highlight factors that mediate the relationships between technology use, academic performance, anxiety and well-being. The goal is to provide a clear and comprehensive tool that could cross culture and time. Thus, a cross-cultural study will be carried out in university students across three countries (United Kingdom, Turkey and Spain). Furthermore, a longitudinal study will be done in order to clarify the directionality of the association between technology use and the studied constructs. The overall findings from this project aim to contribute to the development of theoretical models and targeted interventions strategies to encourage adaptive technology use to enhance the life, well-being and mental health of our society instead of damaging them.

Future plans:

Upon completing the PhD my plan is to find a post-doctoral position to gain further research experience. My aspirations are to be an effective researcher and make meaningful contributions in my research field with the aim of improving the psychological well-being, mental health and quality of life of individuals.