At a Glance
This part showcases the journey behind curating this story including the data visualizations, text content, imagery, and graphics. A bunch of tools and platforms were utilized to give the story its final form including - Shorthand, Tableau, Flourish, Figma, Pexels, and last but not least the big datasets coming from various reports and other sources.
Before we get a deep dive, let's learn what this story stands for.
In a world driven by digital connectivity, the impact of social media on our lives often remains concealed beneath endless scrolling. But what if I told you that, over the course of a lifetime, you could spend a staggering 5.5 years engrossed in the virtual world? My data visualization story, "Life and Choices: Through the Lens of Your Phone Screen," serves as a wake-up call for high schoolers and young adults in college. It's a call to awareness, encouraging them to grasp the profound implications of their daily social media habits.
Through powerful data visualizations, I first, paint a vivid picture of the time invested in social media—a whopping 5.5 years over a lifetime. It's an eye-opener, challenging individuals to reconsider how they allocate their most precious resource: time. But, they're not alone in this digital journey. I then bring forth global data that reveals the universal struggle with increased social media engagement. The message is clear: "You are not alone in this." From there, the narrative shifts, focusing on the delicate balance between screen time and real-life connections. Using data, I show how the hours spent with loved ones, like parents, siblings, and friends, change over a lifetime. It's a stark reminder that time with those who matter most is finite, and we must cherish it.
This project leverages the power of data visualization to captivate and educate. Through compelling visuals, I try to guide my audience on a journey of self-discovery. I establish a baseline understanding of daily social media usage and then transition to a global perspective to emphasize the shared experience. I conclude with a self-reflective message, urging my readers to pause before their next scroll and consider if their time could be better spent.
"Life and Choices: Through the Lens of Your Phone Screen" is not just a story; it's a call to action. It empowers the youth to make mindful choices in their digital lives and encourages them to treasure every moment spent with the people who hold a special place in their hearts.
Target Audience and Participant Demographics
Through my story, I am hoping to reach young adults, primarily high school and college students.
The nature of my story is based on self-reflection and making better life choices, therefore this segment of the population seems appropriate since they are heavily involved in social media consumption and have most of their lives ahead of themselves.
For the purpose of this user research, I picked three participants belonging to the same target audience. The participants were chosen on the basis of different social media consumption rates, age, gender, and cultural background. Following are the personas from the intended audience of the piece.
The Moderate Social Media User
Akshay is a 27-year-old professional living in India. He has a Bachelor's degree in Engineering and currently works as a software developer. He's well aware of the importance of technology in today's world but maintains a balanced perspective on its usage.
Social Media Usage
Akshay spends an average of 1 hour a day on social media platforms. He checks his accounts during lunch breaks and occasionally shares travel and hobby-related posts.
Habits and Interests
Akshay is passionate about photography, and he often shares his travel adventures and clicks on Instagram. He values real-life connections, maintaining a strong bond with his family, and occasionally catching up with old friends in person.
Attitude Towards Social Media
He views social media as a useful tool for staying connected and entertained but believes in living in the moment rather than through a screen. Akshay is concerned about the increasing time spent by the youth on social media and its long-term consequences.
The Heavy Social Media User
Emma is a 22-year-old American college student. She's in her final year, majoring in Communication Studies. She's part of the generation that has grown up with smartphones and social media as a daily companion.
Social Media Usage
Emma is a heavy social media user, spending about 3-4 hours a day on various platforms. She uses Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter extensively, often multitasking between them.
Habits and Interests
Emma is deeply engaged in online communities, particularly those focused on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. She follows influencers and actively participates in discussions and challenges on these platforms.
Attitude Towards Social Media
Emma sees social media as an integral part of her life. It's a source of inspiration, connection, and entertainment. She is, however, concerned about the amount of time she spends on her devices and its potential impact on her relationships and well-being. She's open to finding a balance but often finds herself caught up in the virtual world.
Audience X Design
The intended audience had a significant impact on the design decisions I made for the story. Here are a few of them.
Recognizing their preference for quick and easily digestible content, I focused on creating concise and visually engaging data visualizations that mirror the brevity of social media.
The use of vibrant colors to distinguish positive and negative points serves to capture their attention, making it easier to discern key takeaways.
Additionally, the choice of a sans-serif font cultivates a light and approachable reading experience, avoiding an overwhelming, bookish sensation.
This design approach ensures that the story not only educates but also resonates with the digital-savvy audience, aligning seamlessly with their online preferences and habits.
My Reflection on the Entire Journey Behind Shaping This Story
In the development of "Life and Choices: Through the Lens of Your Phone Screen," I encountered a significant challenge in securing relevant data and designing compelling visualizations. The task of finding accurate data to illustrate the time spent on social media and its far-reaching impact initially felt daunting. However, my efforts and CMU's resourcefulness eventually paid off, transforming the data collection process into a valuable learning experience.
When it came to visualization design, I aimed to convey the profound impact succinctly and effectively. The strategic use of bold colors was employed to ensure that the core message stood out, aligning with the audience's preference for concise and easily digestible content.
This journey transcended mere data visualization; it became a testament to the importance of persistence in data acquisition and the potency of visual storytelling.
This final project serves as an empowering reminder to young adults, urging them to make thoughtful choices in the digital era while highlighting the lifelong consequences of their daily decisions in a screen-dominated world.
Here are the sources that helped shape this story
Worldometer. (n.d.). World Population by Year. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/world-population-by-year/
Brian, D. (2023). Social Media Users: Statistics & Facts. [Website]. Backlinko. Retrieved from https://backlinko.com/social-media-users
Statista. (n.d.). Daily social media usage worldwide. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/433871/daily-social-media-usage-worldwide/
Statista. (n.d.). Regional distribution of social media users worldwide. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/295619/regional-distribution-of-social-media-users-worldwide/
Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina, and Joe Hasell. (2021). "Rise of Social Media." Our World in Data. Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/rise-of-social-media#:~:text=The%20percentage%20of%20US%20adults,to%20around%2030%25%20in%202018.
Kincaid, J. (2008). Top social media sites of 2008. [Website]. TechCrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2008/12/31/top-social-media-sites-of-2008-facebook-still-rising/?guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAABciastNyYS_3pPyhoDCITk493g1hYDeGu25x71GpntF7w25Sc38gWQ6FjghOGYGJCECu7edKJ9Jp204EDysKJo6dcDtkTfiI9YUmjtOxqLqSNyg4jKJmF4E5eBye8vjL0i31eexsjFIy_6m3BlEWgJsrNK_xQo0UTnj86PHbY8A&guccounter=2
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Timeline of social media. [Website]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_social_media
Pew Research Center. (2015). Social Networking Usage: 2005-2015. [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/10/08/social-networking-usage-2005-2015/
Al Jazeera. (2023, June 30). How Many Years Does a Typical User Spend on Social Media? [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/6/30/how-many-years-does-a-typical-user-spend-on-social-media#:~:text=How%20much%20time%20on%20average,a%20little%20over%20a%20month.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). American Time Use Survey. [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf
DataReportal. (2023). Digital 2023 July Global Statshot. [Website]. Retrieved from https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-july-global-statshot