Migrating to the Cloud; The Effect of Smartphones/Social Media on Mental Health

Fruchterman, Matthew, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Graham, Daniel, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Wylie, Caitlin, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

The topic I chose for my STS research paper was completely unrelated to my technical project. I felt obligated to write my STS research paper on the topic I did because it was personal to me, and I was passionate about it. I chose to write about the effect that social media has on the mental health of young adults. I have watched my youngest sister struggle immensely with phone addiction, cyberbullying, and depression, but I also know that this is not a unique struggle. Millions of individuals across the world struggle from the same phenomena. The contents of my paper sought an understanding of the relationship between smartphones/social media and mental health. Specifically looking at the detrimental psychological affects this new technology brings and how we can manage it. To be clear, my paper explored how social media harms mental health and ignores the many benefits it brings. Separately, my technical project was done in a summer internship with a technology consulting firm this past summer. I was assigned the task of advising a small technology startup company (the client) as it migrated its core infrastructure (server, containers, applications) to the cloud. The importance of STS in the engineering practice was apparent in both my technical project and my STS research paper. In both scenarios, I applied the ethics, awareness, and soft skills I learned in the STS curriculum to my work.
Project Summaries
In the technical project, my team needed to help a startup migrate their entire business to a cloud provider effectively. Among the three primary cloud providers are team could have leveraged (AWS, Azure, or GCP), Our team elected to use GCP (Google Cloud Platform). We worked closely with our startup to write automated templates with a tool called terraform to build out the services our client wanted within GCP. This included configuring the network/subnetwork the company would operate in, the servers used to host its applications, the storage mechanisms, the containers used to run microservices, and the
Fruchterman (Level 1)
identity and access management to assign permissions to different users within the system. As a result, our client was able to seamlessly migrate their infrastructure from local hosting to the Google Cloud Platform. This enabled the client to take advantage of the scalability, cost efficiency, and security of cloud computing. Of course, future work is needed on this project as the startup continues to mature. As for my STS research paper, I synthesized a variety of literature studies to determine the extent to which social media harms the mental health of adolescents. After examining the various studies, I determined that social media alone is not the direct issue, but rather, social media creates an environment where individuals who are predisposed to conditions like depression and anxiety are at a higher risk. Furthermore, I concluded that each individual is responsible for educating themselves and using these platforms carefully. However, the bulk of the burden should fall on the executives and engineers designing social media platforms.
During my STS research, I decided that features that reduce the risk of cyberbullying and sexting such as mechanisms to report this behavior should be implemented my professional engineers at the aforementioned large technology companies. Additionally, features that track over-usage and problematic usage should be able to send warnings to users. As the realm of technology expands, we must be cognizant of the risks that threaten us. Engineers and future engineers must design technology with these risks in mind so that we as a society to progress effectively without being harmed by mental health conditions. As for my technical project, I was very thrilled to have had the opportunity to be a part of a project outside of the classroom. Ultimately, the project I completed this summer for my internship served many purposes and was quite significant for my own development as well as those affected by my contributions. I was able to develop multiple skills outside of the classroom and I was able to significantly help a tech startup overseas accomplish their work more efficiently and securely.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Mental Health, Smartphones, Social Media, Cloud Computing

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Daniel Graham
STS Advisor: Richard Jacques

Issued Date: