I am currently Assistant Professor in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Department at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. I am generally interested in understanding how and why people use digital technology, and the impact it can have on their lives. My latest work involves the collection of screenomes to better understand and dissect youth smartphone use. Another current project involves understanding what aspects of media use contributes to preschoolers’ school readiness. Overall, my work aims to explore how message design, technology, and digital media can be harnessed to positively affect children’s development.
PhD in Communication, 2019
Nanyang Technological University
BA in Communication, 2014
Nanyang Technological University
The research projects under the Youth and Digital Media Research Lab aim to understand how media use and consumption affect children and adolescents’ development and well-being.
This stream of research aims to understand how technology can be harnessed to improve individual health outcomes.
In this project, I identify the features and theoretical processes behind effective parenting strategies in encouraging healthier food consumption among children.
In this op-ed, my colleague discuss why we - as a society - need to destigmatize screen time. Based on our experience conducting fieldwork across Singapore, we note that screen time guidelines can sometimes engender strong feelings of parental guilt and disempowerment. We argue that there is a need to instead view screen time as screen experience, and that the responsibility of ensuring high quality screen experiences falls not only on parents, but the technological companies that profit from children’s attention.
As our interactions with each other become increasingly digitally mediated, there is growing interest in the study of people’s digital experiences. To better understand digital experiences, some researchers have proposed the use of screenomes. This involves the collection of sequential high-frequency screenshots which provide detailed objective records of individuals’ interaction with screen devices over time. Despite its usefulness, there remains no readily available tool that researchers can use to run their own screenome studies. To fill this gap, we introduce ScreenLife Capture, a user-friendly and open-source software to collect screenomes from smartphones. Using this tool, researchers can set up smartphone screenome studies even with limited programming knowledge and resources. We piloted the tool in an exploratory mixed-method study of 20 college students, collecting over 740,000 screenshots over a 2-week period. We found that smartphone use is highly heterogeneous, characterized by threads of experiences. Using in-depth interviews, we also explored the impact that constant background surveillance of smartphone use had on participants. Participants generally had slight psychological discomfort which fades after a few days, would suspend screen recording for activity perceived to be extremely private, and recounted slight changes in behavior. Implications for future research is discussed.
While videoconferencing has allowed for meetings to continue in a virtual space without the need for face-to-face interaction, there have been increasing reports of individuals affected by a phenomenon colloquially known as videoconference fatigue (VF). This paper presents a systematic review of existing literature to understand the empirical manifestations of the phenomenon, the causes behind it and potential theoretical explanations behind its effects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way many people live their lives. The increasing amount of time spent indoors and isolated during periods of lockdown has been accompanied by an increase in the time people spend playing video games. One such game which soared in popularity during the early stages of the pandemic was Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Through semi-structured interviews with players, and using a theory-informed qualitative analysis, we document and examine players’ motivations and experiences playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic. Findings suggest that playing the game helped satisfy various psychological needs—autonomy, relatedness, and competence—as described by Self-Determination Theory. Conversely, players stopped playing the game when they found that their psychological needs were thwarted or better met through other activities. Our findings offer support that video games can offer psychological relief in stressful contexts by providing opportunities for people to satisfy key psychological needs. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Research examining the effect of parenting practices on child food consumption has often neglected the role in which global aspects of parenting – such as parenting style – play in shaping children’s dietary behaviors. To address this gap, the parenting style-as-context model was used to examine the moderating effects of parenting style – defined as the perceived emotional climate communicated to children by their parents – on the association between parental guidance of food consumption and children’s beliefs surrounding food. A cross-sectional survey of 1,113 child/adolescent participants between the ages of 9 and 18 was conducted to test the theoretical propositions derived from the parenting style-as-context model. Results suggest desirable relationships between different dimensions of parental guidance of food consumption on children’s beliefs surrounding foods were stronger among children who were under an authoritative parenting style compared to other parenting styles. The results offer some support for the parenting style-as-context model and has theoretical and practical implications for research targeted at understanding the role parents play in inculcating healthy dietary habits among children.
In this op-ed, Professor Lim Sun Sun and I discuss the importance of going beyond a time-based understanding of media use for children. Instead, we highlight the importance of content, context, intention, and risk mitigation. Furthermore, we emphasize the importance of parent-child communication and negotiation, rather than parents using authoritarian and top-down strategies to deal with media use. Overall, we highlight the need to view screen time as opportunities for learning and bonding, rather than something to tackle.
Through a series of 4 studies (focus group discussions involving social media users and 3 nationally representative online surveys) conducted in Singapore, we identify 4 types of competencies in which social media literacy can manifest: technical, social, privacy related, and informational. Using a sequential, exploratory mixed-methods approach, we first identified literacy events and practices that were grounded in social media users’ actual experiences through a series of focus group discussions. Then, based on the qualitative results, we developed and tested a perceived social media literacy (PSML) scale through a series of 3 national online surveys, where we found disparities in PSML based on socioeconomic factors.
An international study across 42 countries was conducted to better understand children’s perception of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the role in which the media plays in shaping these perceptions.
Parents are important sources of influence in the development of healthy eating among children and adolescents. Besides gatekeeping and modeling, parents serve as health educators and promoters, using intentional and persuasive communication to encourage healthier eating preferences and behaviors in children. Despite this, a lack of reliable and valid measures has limited the research on how parent-driven interpersonal communication about foods influence child food consumption outcomes. Building on the research in parental mediation of media consumption, and parenting practices in public health nutrition, this study details the development and validation of the active and restrictive parental guidance questionnaire with a sample of 246 children and adolescents at the scale development phase and another sample of 1,113 children and adolescents at the scale validation phase. Findings show that parents employ four communicative strategies to encourage a healthier diet: active guidance, general discussion, preventive restrictive guidance, and promotive restrictive guidance. The new measure was shown to have good validity and measurement model fit. Implications for future research are discussed.
As Covid-19 brings the world to a standstill, my co-author Lim Sun Sun and I wrote an op-ed that discusses how screen time for children should not be viewed solely from a homogenous time-based perspective, but rather, in a way that takes into account the content and context of media use.
The rapidly increasing volume of health data generated from digital technologies have ushered in an unprecedented opportunity for health research. Despite their promises, big data approaches in understanding human behavior often do not consider conceptual premises that provide meaning to social and behavioral data. In this paper, we update the definition of big data, and review different types and sources of health data that researchers need to grapple with. We highlight three problems in big data approaches—data deluge, data hubris, and data opacity—that are associated with the blind use of computational analysis. Finally, we lay out the importance of cultivating health data sense-making—the ability to integrate theory-led and data-driven approaches to process different types of health data and translating findings into tangible health outcomes—and illustrate how theorizing can matter in the age of big data.
Numerous studies have highlighted the undesirable effects of food advertising on children across the world. However, very few researchers have looked at the impact of food advertising restrictions on the targeted outcomes of these policies. This paper presents three studies that assessed the impact of child food advertising restrictions in Singapore. The studies include (1) a content analysis of television advertisements, (2) a door-to-door household pantry survey of families, and (3) a large-scale survey of school children. Results indicate that the amount of unhealthy food advertising has declined since the policy implementation, children’s cognition about fast- food have shifted desirably, household stocks of a number of unhealthy foods have decreased slightly, and children’s self-reported consumption of unhealthy foods has decreased slightly. Age and gender effects were found, where older children, and girls, show larger differences. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.