Category Archives: Visual Design Component

Tour Guide App Visual Design Component

Here is my explanation of how the app works.

The clip art was used from the creative commons section of, the photos I supplied myself. Used Adobe After effects to create this h.264 video. Silent no audio.

For some reason I thought we had until Sunday at 11pm to upload the final. But when I realized from Dr. Shaw’s tweet that it was due tonight, I ran out of time. Great Summer everyone!


cards FOR humanity- Bringing Sociability Back to the Physical Space

Social Justice

The concept of justice is typically thought of in the sense of legal restitution for an individual’s crime against another. The concept of justice is much more broad than this. An injustice doesn’t need to be an individual act it could be a set norms that affect a segment of a population. Take telecommunications for instance before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Things taken for granted by the majority like telephones and television shows were proved inaccessible and practically useless certain people with hearing and speech difficulties. The injustice here is providing unbalanced access to specific forms of communication, the implementation of closed captioning and the Teletype machine rectified these injustices. This is what is known as social justice and is commonly referred to “as a means of bringing about social change, fighting inequality or campaigning for human rights” (Light Lukin 2008). Social Justice comes in many forms, ranging anywhere from policy making to education. Despite popular belief, those who enact social justice don’t have to be philanthropists or government agencies, they can be individual citizens. All that is required to bring about social change is the desire to do so. There is a plethora of media for one to perform a social justice. Many have turned to the burgeoning world of mobile media and other information communication technologies (ICTs). Applications with a social agenda tend to be effective through the ubiquity of mobile technology use and ownership.

Field Research

I decided to try my hand at social justice to prove the concept that any individual can perform social justice. Unfortunately, I could not think of a social injustice to attempt to rectify so I first had to find one. I couldn’t think of a better way to do so than to sit in some of my favorite Philadelphia locales and observe people, how they interact with their environments, those around them, and their mobile devices. I went to two bars in the city found a decent vantage point where I could observe many individuals and groups at once. What I found while there did not shock me much but merely confirmed a belief that I had already held, that mobile technology is affecting the way in which people interact in physical spaces. I noticed young groups of friends often failing to carry conversations for very long, and when they did the conversation was of little to no importance to the world as a whole.  Those few conversations that did discuss big picture subjects such as world news, politics, or science were generally ill informed and presented in very weak arguments. I also observed that when these groups of friends would run out of things to talk about nearly every single person sitting in the group would turn on their smart phone and connect to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites. This phenomenon seemed to be localized to younger people which seems to have back up Rich Ling and Jonathan Donner’s argument that younger people seem to be more accepting of social interactions being interrupted by mobile phones than older people (Ling Donner 2009). This at first confused me, I was in an inherently social space yet its inhabitants resorted to a secondary social space when their conversations hit a low point. I myself rarely use social media and do not poses a mobile device capable of connecting to the internet, so I had a hard time understanding the compulsion to revert to a digital social space while in a physically social space.

Many others have observed this behavior in social spaces some on much more grand of a scale. In an article published in 2010 by Keith N. HamptonLauren F. Sessions, and Eun Ja Herb, it was shown that people are becoming increasingly more socially isolated through extrapolated data from US General Social Survey conducted in 1985 and 2008 (Hampton). Some postulate that this could be because of the prevalence and increasing use of smart-phones and the Internet. What this theory and the General Social Survey fail to realize is that the nature and definition of being social may be changing. Consider the Internet, perhaps it is making people more socially isolated in the traditional sense. I prefer to think of sociability currently transitioning from one space to another. Socializing historically took place in a physical space such as the bars I visited, however today access to social networking through the Internet is becoming more prevalent. Thus I argue that people are in fact not becoming more socially isolated they are just moving to different social spaces ones that aren’t physical but digital. A Pew Internet study on how social networking sites affect peoples lives, concludes “the findings suggests that there is little validity to concerns that people who use SNS [social networking sites] experience smaller social networks, less closeness, or are exposed to less diversity” (Hampton 2011). From my observations while in the bars I can also draw the conclusion that many people rely on these digital spaces to be social when physical spaces fail to provide the social properties they desire. The social issue in this situation is that the art of discussion is losing out to a world where entire opinions and worldviews are being expressed in 140 characters or less. It has taken me 854 words just to describe how this would be a problem.

The App

            Alas, I have identified a social justice issue. Then the challenge became how to create a form of social justice using the very technology that is identified as the issue. At a 2002 Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) conference an early experiment in crossing physical and digital spaces was implemented a plasma touch screen that allowed people to interact in a face-to-face setting through a digital social space. Researchers state, “in bringing the content of online, digital community spaces directly into physical places, we intentionally invert the logic of the virtual environment construction, which historically has involved representing real physical objects within digital spaces” (Churchill).  This was done with mild success and was arguably one of the first uses of a digital social space being used in a physical space. Just like this experiment I chose to use a mobile application to aid in my goal to promote informed discussion in physical social spaces.

The best way I saw to do this was through a social game that can be played on a mobile device. Unlike most mobile games this game would need to involve physical interaction so I decided to adapt a few games that already existed. Cards Against Humanity is a game of wits in which players are charged with the task of creating the funniest statement by filling in the blank on a drawn community card with a statement card held in their hand. This game has a viral following and has informed other games similar to it like The Metagame created to promote discussion and arguments about some of the silliest subjects imaginable. I combined the two of these games to come up with Cards For Humanity. The game functions by first determining a moderator, which changes ever round played. The duty of the moderator is to determine the best argument for the subject being discussed. Once the moderator is chosen a topic card is drawn and the rest of the players are dealt a hand of argument cards that pertain to that particular topic. The other players then choose the argument they would like to make and are given 5 minutes within the app to use a search engine to quickly research their argument and the topic in general. Once the five minutes has passed players then take 2 minutes presenting their argument for the topic. Once all the arguments have been presented the moderator then votes for the winner.

I chose a mobile app for this game unlike its physical card based counterparts so the topics and arguments can remain up to date. The application would require a staff and algorithmic search engines to disseminate trending news stories and issues from hundreds of sources. Players also would have the opportunity to create their own decks so the conversations they have are specific to their interests. For the lazier players out there the app would also allow them to choose premade decks based on certain broad subjects such as sports, science, music, etc. The game would allow winning players to summarize their arguments and post them to social networking sites so as to allow those not present in the physical space to participate indirectly through a digital space.

This game if played often could change the social dynamics of the physical space. Imagine going to a bar or a restaurant with a group of friends, and instead of discussing the latest drama between such and such on Facebook you can discuss the ongoing conflict in Crimea or the affects the media had on the Rwandan Genocide. Menial conversation will be replaced by thought provoking discussions both in the physical and digital social spaces. Not only does this app promote informed debate but it also promotes the importance of research and what it entails. It will train players in what to look for in a reliable source of information and how to present that information in the most convincing manner. It could also aid those like myself who have difficulties articulating thoughts to groups of people, and help them overcome their stage fright.

Accessibility/ Privacy

            Accessibility as mentioned before can bring up social justice issues entirely on its own so it goes without saying that it would be an important consideration in the conceptualization of Cards FOR Humanity. The app would be distributed for free and the on the applications website the source code would be made available to programmers so the game can be changed and improved in an open source community. The app would of course have to be approved and checked for bugs by the Cards FOR Humanity staff before an open sourced update was redistributed. This will allow for a safer more secure application of which players could trust. Granted the application would be difficult for those with poor eyesight to play, but that would be more of an accessibility hurdle for mobile devices in general. I chose an opt in design for the linking of the game to players social network accounts because I believe that some conversations are better left to the ears of those present to hear it. Many employers are involved in their employee’s online social networks. If say, the game took an opt out model a player could not fully realize this and accidentally post an opinion that some would disagree with creating a tough situation for that individual. The app will collect data from players however that data will not be linked to any identifiable information of the individual. The data would include arguments made, winning arguments, sites visited to inform arguments, popular player made topics, and the most and least used arguments. This data will better inform the programmers and staff in choosing topic and argument cards and will also allow the application to make suggestions to helpful websites in the research portion of the game.


            Through my observations in the field I noticed a tendency for groups of friends who are in an inherently social space to abandon face-to-face socialization for the comfort and familiarity of an online social networking site. At first glance I considered the idea that people are becoming less social because of their mobile technologies but I soon realized that simply was not the case. People aren’t becoming less social, they are just becoming social in different ways moving from physical to digital sociability. I believe Cards FOR Humanity could effectively merge the two spaces in a fun and informative environment. It will also promote educated conversation about topics and issues that are relevant to the world. It will also train players how to effectively research and make an argument, two practices that are imperative to the advancement of society. If sociability is allowed to move entirely to the digital sphere vast groups of people run the risk of losing touch with communicative practices.

 Visual Design

Home Screen Moderator Screen Player Screen Research Screen Winners Screen    

Works Cited

Zimmerman, E. (2014, January 1). The Metagame. . Retrieved May 8, 2014, from

What is Cards Against Humanity?. (n.d.). Cards Against Humanity. Retrieved May 10, 2014, from

Elizabeth Churchill, Andreas Girgensohn, Les Nelson, and Alison Lee. 2004. Blending digital and physical spaces for ubiquitous community participation. Commun. ACM 47, 2 (February 2004), 38-44. DOI=10.1145/966389.966413

Hampton, K., Goulet, L., Rainie, L., & Purcell, K. Social Networking Sites and Our Lives. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 42. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from

Hampton, K., Sessions, L., & Her, E. J. Core Networks, Social Isolation, and New Media. Information, Communication & Society, 14, 130- 155. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from the Taylor & Francis Online database.

Ling, R. S., & Donner, J. (2009). Debates surrounding mobile communication. Mobile communication (). Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Light, A., & Luckin, R. Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology, Learning. Open Education. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from


EpiAlert Final Project


            I choose this particular issue due to epilepsy being very close to home. I have grown up knowing my aunt had an issue and never fully understood everything that goes on in her life. She cannot do average things most people do. At the age of 31, she cannot drive, she cannot attend a concert, she is overly sensitive to lights and certain things cannot over stimulate her senses. I see this a social justice due to the inequalities in the world today.

When I conducting my field research, the thought of a classroom setting seemed ideal. Someone in my lecture hall could have epilepsy. What would happen to that person if they had one in a big classroom? Being in room full of students engrossed in notebooks and laptops. A person towards the back of the room may not be noticed while a seizure is happening. I thought of various scenarios of how the app would alert someone’s attention and am helpful in everyday life.

EpiAlert is a tool for people with epilepsy that need a little bit of extra help in day-to-day activities. People who use the application can set up distinct times for taking medicine. This would provide them with a daily habit to take it around the same time. A list of anti-seizure medicines will be available and will list each food conflict. The police alerts will use a GPS feature that tracks when police will be within a four-block radius of the user. This will show up as an alert and tell them that police are in action. When going out of town the neurologist will be able to be looked up just in case of an emergency. The chat room will be combined by with the online chat with people discussing epileptic issues and everyday life. The seizure alarm will be forcefully awakened with hard shakes. This will cause a high-pitched noise within 50 feet radius.

This app would not be accessible to people that are hard of seeing. It would not benefit them due to the app being mostly on a smartphone and needing to see what is going on within the app itself. The app lacks a voice dictation, which would serve as a problem.

The issues with GPS are that most people don’t want to be found and have where they are on record. To solve that problem people can put in any zip code to search local places for help. Another concern would be the information used in the chat room. All information from the users phone will not be accessible through the app.

iTextShare – Envision Education Differently

Throughout the course of history and its never-ending questions regarding life, humanity has definitely determined one thing: we are always capable of learning something new. Learning could be argued as instinctive and necessary for survival. Generations of storytellers, writings on papyrus, and now electronics have been the means to learning and claiming a seat in a world of life. Humans are constantly challenging themselves to grow larger and think harder. We think and learn the benefits associated with money, but what happens when a capitalist system gets too business oriented and greedy? Where is the line in placing a price on our education and ability to learn? Learning is a human goal and practiced daily. Our society demands thinkers while raising the price of our most simple mediums to gaining a higher education, like books and technology. College students, in particular, are in their prime of learning and determining how they want to affect the world. As tuition and textbook rates get higher, the college student falls more commonly short of affording the proper tools to learn. Learning is survival in today’s age, and with help from social thinkers and technology users, people can strive to work together to help each other learn and conquer similar obstacles. An app promoting a community of textbook sharers and resources is useful in spreading knowledge and interest to further our minds.

Social Justice, in terms for this essay, is any act that promotes good for humanity in a peaceful, affordable, and accessible manner. Development of an app, iTextShare, can help achieve those goals by providing necessary communication between users to actively share textbooks primarily for college classroom use, and other books for personal interest.

Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 10.10.25 PM

The chart above from The Required Textbook – Friend or Foe?, shows a large number of pros as to why a textbook is necessary for a better learning experience. From personal confidence to showing long term value and encouraging student involvement and understanding. With iTextShare, the student is able to get more involved in his thinking on any imaginable course!

 Leonard Gaston and Ben Williams make clear how the price of the textbook is on the rise. Together, they analyze why it costs so much and just how feasible it is for a student to afford the required material while acknowledging the economic system within book marketing and publishing.

“The fact remains however that a university student enrolled for five courses in a given semester, assuming that each required an equivalent text, would shell out $945 just for textbooks. If we assume a six percent sales tax jurisdiction, the cost comes out to a bit over a thousand dollars” (Gaston & Williams).

Both Gaston and Williams address the serious issue that interests me the most. Early in their research, they question the ideas and priorities of society.

“If the situation has reached the point where students may avoid courses they would otherwise prefer to take, simply because of textbook cost, it is a serious question” (Gaston & Williams).

Developments in writing systems were found as early as 3,500 B.C.E. Since then, humanity has been learning and sharing stories through language, including word, writings, and drawings. As early as the 16th century, humans have studied the brain and been fascinated by it’s ability. Through writing and text, they share their ideas to future generations. Formal institutions encouraging the academics can be traced as far back as the 10th century. It’s not secret that humanity has been on a search for knowledge since the beginning. Through this mobile application, learning and knowledge will hopefully be more accessible and used as a tool to motivate a student to learn more!

After shortly studying Temple University’s student center, I over-heard the same complaint from many: books are too expensive. Why should the most basic medium of learning be inaccessible to the students that want to learn and need them to achieve greater accomplishments? Statistics found through The College Board have found that,

“As of 2009, the average published tuition, fee, and room and board at a public four-year school was $14,333. Ten years ago, it was $10,471, which represents a 36.9 percent increase in costs” (Cooper, Mary Ann).

Students, or their families, are expected to pay for their tuition and books if not offered funding from the government. Funding that is not easily obtainable. If funding for a higher education is up to the students, resources should be in place in high school teaching students how to manage their college experience. Dr. Tracey Espinosa agrees that more accessible learning is necessary to a flourishing future. She states,

America and many other countries around the world… realize that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; public education ha[s] to do more to reach all of the members of society.” (Espinosa, Tracey.)

The United States is no longer a leader in academics and more must be done to continue challenging other countries in an extremely crucial time of technology development. Many websites and apps aim at making education more affordable, but ultimately they all are based off business models and are interested in making money.

Research at other universities can offer insight into the student mindset in purchasing textbooks. If students are interested in paying for textbooks, what is the limit? Do they keep books or return them for cash? Through modern technology and research these questions can be answered. According to a Johns Hopkins study, students were polled on how they value their textbooks.

When asked where they purchase their textbooks, a majority of OSU students (58 percent, 142/246) reported they always purchase their textbooks from the centrally located campus bookstore. Another 40 percent of responding students (41 percent, 101/246) reported that they sometimes purchase from the OSU bookstore. Seventy percent (160/229) never buy their books from any other ‘bricks and mortar’ bookstore.”(Anne, Christie).

With mobile technology, users can connect more consistently based on similar interests. Searching for an item has never been easier. These two simple ideas result in an app designed to promote books that users want to get rid of and receive in return. Instead of a business model, the app is balanced off a credit system. The way to receive credit is by posting books that are available to students in your college community. The credits, in return, are used in swapping or receiving textbooks with other university students. Some believe that humans are natural givers and want to help, so why dissuade that idea. Encourage the user to help others in a safe mobile application.

This app idea would not have worked in the past because it is entirely based off of mobility. The app requires a mobile phone and profile registered through your school email address. As people offer books to the public, swaps are arranged through date and time settings. Locations for exchanges are pre-determined during daylight hours in public spaces. Communication is available through a list of programmed messages ranging from, “I’ll Be Late,” to “I Must Cancel.” Although the app design is based off human interaction and a sense of trust, there is not much room for rudeness or prejudices.

Primarily the app is designed to assist those who have education at the forefront of their priorities: students. There is no personal information available to the public, just a user picture and username. The app would require email confirmation and access to GPS capabilities for safety and confirmation of transaction.  Mainly established through a picture interface, based of textbook ISBN code, illiterate users could manage to access the app services. Fortunately for the hearing impaired, sound is not an issue. However, developing an app for eyesight impaired is more difficult. The addition of sounds and text reader services could help execute actions, but still might stall functionality and ease of use. By offering an option to turn off profile and GPS settings, the user is allowed to move freely through the app, but not commit to any text shares without turning those settings back “on.” So long as a user is able to manage the app and reach the location specified through the application, the app is accessible. Other concerns regarding privacy include safety and confirmation of transaction. By limiting the hours available to text share and locations, users are pushed to safer environments.

Theoretically, the app could be expanded to other universities based on proximity. The app could also be expanded to public use, but ensuring safety would become more of an issue. How users utilize mobile technology is entirely up to the community and is never 100% predictable by the developer. Part of developing mobile technologies is to further how we learn and answer questions to why we learn.

The ability to learn is one that we should not take for granted. Accessible learning is necessary for anyone to survive in a society of increasing competition and success determined by how much money is in your bank account. With simple and small steps to helping each other with the technologies that are already available to us for free, humans can promote social justice and a better future.

Visual Component
Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.00.49 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.01.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.01.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-09 at 11.01.17 PM
Julian Castillo

Works Cited

Espinosa, Tracey, Dr. “History of Human Learning, Mind, Brain, and Education Science, Brain-based Teaching, Progress of Teaching.”History of Human Learning, Mind, Brain, and Education Science, Brain-based Teaching, Progress of Teaching. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2014.

Cooper, M. A. (2012, May 07). High school students not prepared to face tuition hikes. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education,22, 50-51. Retrieved from

Gaston, L., & Williams, B. (2010). In search of a low cost textbook. Southern Business Review, 35(2), 41-44. Retrieved from

Christie, A., Pollitz, J. H., & Middleton, C. (2009). Student strategies for coping with textbook costs and the role of library course reserves. Portal : Libraries and the Academy, 9(4), 491-510. Retrieved from

Skinner, D., & Howes, B. (2013). The required textbook – friend or foe? dealing with the dilemma. Journal of College Teaching & Learning (Online), 10(2), 133. Retrieved from

Future Verse, Words Last Lifetimes

Vanessa Fuller

Mobile Media

Final Paper

May 9, 2014


Why Future Verse Works: What Scholars, Educators, and Parents Need to Know About Millenials and Media Literacy


The toughest part about being a scholar may be in how one sifts through decades or centuries of studies, statistics, and views of other scholars, reporters, and educators. Often times it is difficult for a scholar to be able to say how their research is a part of a larger field, be it conceptually, temporally, but most of all accurately. In researching social justice, preteen usage of mobile media and digital technology, how said usage informs user behavior as well as how human performance informs communicative technologies, this paper shows how such research has aided in the development of a new social justice app for preteen users.

Initially the Future Verse app was an app consisting of quotes and aspirations for preteens who at such a fragile age, are subject to self-esteem issues. However as the research began to unfold it became evident that a larger social justice bout was happening around this demographic. Further assessment of these scholarly reports indicate that scholars, educators, and parents, are constantly debating and gauging the way preteens utilize mobile media and digital technology with a very narrow scope. These three stake holding groups have further informed and often confirms many hunches that were at the basis for the development of Future Verse in terms of preteens and privacy, their mobile media usage (specifically smart phone, app, and web users…), and most importantly their literacy.


To inform the design of Future Verse the following documents were reviewed. A 2013 dissertation for a proposed Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, from the University of California Los Angeles, by Yalda Tehranian entitled, “Social Media, Social Kids: Sociocultural Implications of 21st Century Media for Development in the Preteen Period. The second is an article published in The Washington Post in May 2013, by Cecilia Kang entitled, “Preteens on Instagram Raise Privacy Concerns.” “The next is Tip of the Iceberg: Meaning, Identity, and Literacy in the Preteen Virtual Worlds,” by Eric M. Meyers, and an article from Young Consumers by May O. Lwin, “Online Usage, Motivate, and Information Disclosure for Preteen Children.” These articles have informed Future Verse as a response to the way scholars, educators, and parents are currently writing off this demographic and their ability to behave in traditional face-to-face contact and to read and perform outside of their digitally oriented communities, by adding to the demographic artillery of mobile technologies that can be used to combat these negative generalizations.

While scholars, educators, and parents have various informed opinions about the implications of preteen indulgence in shared virtual environments, analysis of these texts show that the conversation is meant to give either of these groups an edge over the other in, “Who gets to be right about our children’s future with their new ubiquitous technologies,” with some level of scholarly, primary, or otherwise informed research. A brief overview of what each author is supposing or arguing will be given, followed by an analysis of each, and finally how they have all influenced not only the goals of Future Verse as an app but how their sorts of thinking has shaped the potential effects of the app’s result as a SVE’s impact on the socialization of preteens.

The issue of privacy as it pertains to online and mobile media usage is a conversation thoroughly investigated by media critics and scholars. For The Washington Post to publish as article on preteen usage of a popular photo-sharing site is not far removed from being a public concern. The article follows one young boy’s journey on the Instagram site, his parental guidance/interference with how he performed on the site and most importantly the sites failure to protect children and inform parents adequately about the sites’ means to acquire user information. It mentions that a petition being filed on requesting that Facebook, owner of Instagram, privatize underage accounts.

As means to become better informed about what motivates preteen internet usages and the circumstances in which they divulge personal information, May O. Lwin offers stellar findings and conclusions as what behaviors must be considered. The article sites information seeking, entertainment, and socializing as three common motives for internet usage. Information seeking and socializing had the most results in which time of usage informed children ages 10-12 habits of privacy concerns. The findings from this study imply that information seeking was positively associated with privacy concerns while the opposite is true for socializing. To understand the privacy behaviors of children these ages researchers took into consideration the techniques and tactics of user data collection, maturity levels of young users, and their motives and incentives that dictate how they navigate through the World Wide Web, coupled with the uses and gratification theory. The gem of this study is that while information seeking tends to involve a more informed user rather than a social seeking counterpart, the former user is less likely to divulge private information such as name, address, phone number, location, and school.

It is important to have a grasp on how preteens divulge their personal information and how scholars attribute that to their socialization. When developing Future Verse as an app privacy was heavily considered primarily because the users were not yet adults.  It was also important to develop an app that did not add to the sect of apps that involve extreme narcissism and toss users into a popularity scrimmage for the “likes,” of other users. It was once considered to add a social media environment to Future Verse in which the app’s avatars may interact as a means to popularize the app among preteens. The site that initially inspired an app that gave preteen a plethora of affirmative quotes about self-esteem, ability, image, and progress, is a weekend program in North Philadelphia that mentors and tutors junior high school children.

In an environment where cellular phones are denied to mentors, tutors, instructors, and students, it was a bit a challenge to observe the children’s use of their mobile devices. However, when recreational time occurred, and when students were interacting with mentors 10 to 13 years their senior, a conversation about how both parties engage in mobile media arose in almost no time. It became apparent that most children did have smart phones, and a lot of them had the same apps. The top app of the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders was Instagram. Students questioned why anyone would not have the app, insinuated that having a popular Instagram page was a direct indicator of one’s social status, and it became apparent that children these ages are enticed by this sort of programing.

An immediate goal for an app was to combat the noise levels of narcissistic programing, and invite preteens to a more helpful realm in which they are affirmed not by physical or material displays of popularity, but to codify and appreciate their growing up. With developing an app that encouraged and affirmed this demographic it was not difficult to design the privacy settings because a goal was to use as little information as possible. There is no need for a user of Future Verse to divulge their name, physical location, or school; however they are allowed to select a gender and age for their avatar. The next aspect of the apps design is aligned with the historicizing agenda of its creator, and research questions that were developed and explored through the remaining pieces of literature.

After deciding not to incorporate a social media aspect, even just within the app community, making the app popular was still a goal. What would make these kids use or like this thing? There is no gaming aspect to this app. Thusly the need to understand and explore preteens in the context of shared virtual environments and how user-app-interaction would result in the user embracing or utilizing any of the apps positive scriptures was quite necessary. The first stop on this creation train, involved a bit of nostalgia. Citing the popular preteen phenomena of the 1997 Tiger Electronics release of Giga Pets, and later on EA and Maxis’ 2000 release of The Sims is necessary as both were used to develop the actual design of the app.

Giga Pets was a tiny keychain that fit in the palm of one’s hand, which was also a virtual pet. Users had to feed, clean up after, bathe, and play with their Giga Pet. The mobile media was interactive, simple in terms of its four keypad design, and loved by all children who had it. It was at first regarded by parents as a means to possibly teach responsibility, it was despised by educators as a distraction in the classroom, but perhaps it was just a fun thing to do for children. The Sims is now a sage with many versions and expansion packs, means to play, and does not seem to be losing its relevancy as a SVE. Together these older forms of mobile media and digital technologies became the framework for Future Universe, and dictated the second half of the apps research.

Decidedly to gain the affection and perhaps popularity among potential users, Future Universe would take on an SVE program and feature the use of an avatar. This was also a choice made because it would be very difficult to include users of different races, gender ids, and ethnicities because persons within said categories may experience totally different social situations that other means of coping are better suited for. So the app is set “in the future,” and features a boy and a girl and an “alien,” avatar in which users can only name and age. Now the research became a matter of how to get the user to embrace and apply the affirmations given to the avatar on its journey, to their real life instances, and a gaze into how mobile media usage informs preteen behaviors.

The Meyers article and Tehranian’s dissertation are the platforms that further attributed to Future Verse’s design. Sections of either study present great facts on preteen internet behaviors, but were not suitable for direct application to the app’s design. Tip of the Iceberg: Meaning, Identity, and Literacy in Preteen Virtual Worlds may perhaps be the most useful article of them all.

Beginning with an anecdote of a librarian reading to a group 7 and 8 year olds being informed of a popular shared virtual environment, the study sites SVEs and an emergent genre in which there lies a space for New Literacy, Identity, Learning and Problem Solving, and finally Community. Meyers diffuses three categories of SVEs, insists that there is a sociocultural definition of literacy which defines expertise and socialization offhandedly, and calls a greater understanding for how preteen media literacy ought to be or may be assessed.

The study shows how SVEs are developed for specific types of children within a preteen demographic, and some of the social implications that follow. For sites that require membership or premiums, there is a pressure to maintain that premium on parents from users. Creators consider world premises, the avatar, and the point of view as well. While the “AdverWorlds,” and “Commercial Worlds,” deal will real world products or are accessed at a financial cost, and finally there is the Value Worlds are non-commercial and do not seek to entice users with advertisements or their money. It is more about the experience rather than the user’s finance. An important note about the user’s behavior is given in the article and that is most users are heavily involved with the world’s activities such as shopping and customizing, and may involve virtual currency.

This study was most impactful for Future Verse because it defined a lane for the app that wasn’t available in terms of gaming. Trying early on to liken the virtual world of Future Verse to games with story lines or avatars such as Pokémon, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, or Super Mario Brothers, worked as a model for how the apps’ world would be represented in its physical form. However, because there was no overall goal or theme to the avatar’s journey, the app has installed other features to get the user to participate in interaction. Understanding SVE as Meyer’s exhibits makes Future Verse a more relevant and feasible app.

The study sites Fisher, Marcoux, Meyers, and Landry, 2007; 2009, as recent research that, “preteen everyday life information behavior suggests that information seeking and problem solving are embedded in a wide range of social practices, including activities at home, school, public social spaces, and online. This is where the assessment of this study and the following study, became crucial in one, identifying where Future Verse fit in mobile media, digital technology, and SVE universes, two understanding that the demographic is under scrutiny.

There seems to be a discussion floating about preteens that insist they are too involved in their mobile devices, they have too much access to the world through the internet, and that they as a result of performing with, against, or apart from these mobile media, are less capable of basic or traditional human interaction. Perhaps as the famous Will Smith song goes, “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” there is some truth to that statement. The following analysis of Tehranian’s dissertation speaks to the volumes that preteens are widely misunderstood as less human, less literate, and more endangered as learned members of the species.

There is an extreme lack of support and huge asinine claims made in Tehranian’s dissertation. While it is necessary to say that the document is in defense of a Philosophy of Psychology degree, there is a use and some misuse of media studies that support many of her claims. Overall the document informs that there is a huge increase or popularity of “fame,” culture in television media over the past 50 years. (U.S.) She insists that such a widespread frenzy of individualism draws preteens away from physical and traditional forms of socialization and interaction. It is agreed that mass media entertainment are fast and effective at directly and indirectly purporting the behaviors of its audiences. However she leaves no room for accountability. She supports her hypothesis with a number of facts about how much television or online usage preteens generate. Arguably mass media cranks out ideas at large and to large audiences and incur large responses, there is hardly anything scholarly about that observation.

While doing a somewhat decent job at “proving,” this, Tehranian and the board that approved this dissertation did not consider many crucial factors to assessing this demographic and worse some extremely unfair ones.

Tehranian cites Gardner, 2013, as saying this preteen generation is, “the first generation to be defined by technology and innovation.” This cannot possibly be true. Humans have been alive for centuries, every generation encounters newer technologies, and all have been defined by such innovation. A more sensitive approach to this demographic is that they are newly adept in ways that their older influences are not. They do have wider and more expedient access to information because of their technologies, however this dissertation gives the impression that this is inherently bad. Au contraire it is older generation’s inability or unwillingness to immerse themselves in preteen culture, to make an attempt to understand the generation’s usage of such technologies, and to open up their own understandings that frame preteens as a hopeless stretch of DNA that cannot function without a screen.

Tehranian elimintated “screens,” for five days among a group of 6th graders to see if they could recognize and understand human emotion. This implies that preteens are detached, and that there is a detachment happening from using mobile media. Perhaps if Disney’s Belle would have entertained the singing provincial town that she lived in, as opposed to reading a book, she too would have been less of an individual? In reading this document it serves one little to find examples of programming that projected individualism over collectivism, unless one sites how popular Hannah Montana was as a preteen TV program. The document is poorly organized onward; nonetheless, the stats and the theories in place in this dissertation were disheartening.

After mulling over the new studies and theories found on preteen interaction with avatars and SVEs, it became apparent that Future Verse does more than encourage preteens. It allows them to embrace timelessness and character in an age where their predecessors make little effort to understand them, but make large claims against them as productive members of human society. So in efforts to further confuse, confine, and condemn scholars, parents, and educators, and really empower preteens, Future Verse takes place in outer space. It’s futuristic, the avatars are just as tech savvy as the preteens they are designed after, and nobody using this app should feel bad about going on this journey.


Works Cited

Tehranian, Y. Social Media, Social Kids: Sociocultural Implications of 21st Century Media for Development in the Preteen Period.

Meyers, E. M. Tip of the Iceberg: Meaning, Identity, and Literacy in Preteen Virtual Worlds. J. of Education for Library and Information Science50. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from

Kang, C. (2013, May 15). Preteens on Instagram Raise Privacy Concerns. The Washington Post.

Lwin, M. O., Miyazaki, A. D., Stanaland, A. J., & Evonne, L. Online usage motive and information disclosure for preteen children. , 13. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from the Summon database..

Snowden, Collette. (2012). “As It Happens: Mobile communications technology, journalism, and breaking news,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. P. 120-134.

Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge. Chapter 8, 143-161

Since I haven't made a date to show Dr. Shaw my bonafied flip book
Since I haven’t made a date to show Dr. Shaw my bonafied flip book

Just Breathe App

In college one in every three students report prolonged periods of depression, 30% of those students reported problems with school work due to a mental health issue, and only 50% of college students received education on mental health issues prior to coming to college (picture). That means that half of the students on Temple Universities campus and other college campuses don’t know about mental health issues, who it affects, and if it may affect them. A survey was done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness where they sent a survey to college students who did suffer from some type of mental issue. The results were really interesting, 82% of the responses were from women because it seems that women are 2 times more likely to experience depression during their lifetime. The survey also brought light to problems with colleges not being aware of how many students suffer from mental health issues. “A depressive episode made it impossible for me to go to classes and I did not get help until it was too late.” (2012, pg 8). The page then went to show how colleges could help bring more attention to the issues, and what accommodations could be given to students with mental health issues.  Another student agreed that more can be done by colleges to help students stating “I think colleges should pay attention to the fact that many more students need mental health services than who actually access them. Some of the students most affected or most at risk for mental health conditions are the hardest to reach because they are secluded in their rooms” (2012, pg 5)

This in part inspired me to create my app Just Breathe. The idea behind the app is to educate individuals about mental health issues, as well as help those who may suffer from mental health issues. The app is to be split into a few different pages, an information page, emergency contact page, calming page, search engine, and lastly a “my page”.

The information page is split into two different area’s one is for the individual facing problems with mental health, the second is for those who want more information on how to help someone with mental issues. Very often those who have children, siblings, friends or significant others with a mental health disorder are very uneducated on the topic. Sometimes they are unsure of how to help, how to approach them or help them when they have a break down or panic attack. I hope that this app and the information given will help those understand more of what is going on with their loved ones or themselves, and helps them understand that its more common then they think.

The emergency contact page will have numbers for different hotlines and numbers, including suicide hotlines, numbers to call for abusive relationships, eating disorders and anxiety. This page will also have the option for the individual to import numbers of family members or friends that they can contact in a time of need.

The calming page is a section that is used by those who suffer from mental health issues. This page is mostly to help calm a person when they may be having a panic attack or upset moment. On this page there will be music that they can upload songs that they enjoy or that can help put them into a better mood. The music section will also include sounds and ambient noise that can be used to calm or distract the individual. There will be games that can be played, simple games like Tetris or puzzles that can distract them during that time, they will be a part of the phone so that Wi-Fi is not needed to access this area. Most importantly on the page there will be a breathing timer and movements section. The breathing timer will be to help a person in a panic attack catch their breath and calm down. Very often during a panic attack it is difficult to steady your breathing to get back to a normal state, the breathing timer will help to count how many breaths you should take in and how many you should exhale. It counts for you so you can just focus on it and not on numbers. It will also have lists of different positions you can lay in to help your breathing or calm your body. These movements will all be listed on the page and you will just need to find one that applies to you.

The search engine can be used by anyone. Since so many college students are unaware of how many people are affected by mental health many also don’t know where they can seek help when they do face any issues. The search engine will use your maps or GPS, with your permission, to find hospital, clinics, and centers around you that you, or someone you know can go to. On a college campus it will locate the counseling center through your schools page, find it’s location, and information of how to get in contact and schedule and appointment with the college’s center.

Lastly the area “My Page” is for the individual to put anything that they need to help them on. This page will be password protected so only they can have access to it. They can upload certain photos that they can look at to cheer them up. There is also a notepad where they can write down anything that they feel at the time, as a diary of sort. Often some who have mental health issues need to write things down or get things out of their head.


The importance of this app being mobile is so that it is available at anytime that someone may be in need of it. A panic attack or break down can happen anywhere, you may not necessarily be near objects, medication or people that you need to help you through it. That’s where the app’s mobile function comes in handy; if you’re at school and find yourself having a panic attack you can excuse yourself to the bathroom or a quiet area and use the different sections of the app to help yourself through the attack.

Social Justice

  I really wanted to create this app for the sake of social justice. Many college students suffer from some type of mental health issue, it could be from depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those who suffer from these disorders often don’t tell many people because mental health has such a negative stigma around it. “I was concerned that the information would become part of a permanent record that could be viewed negatively. I still feel that there is a slot of stigma and the benefits of disclosing do not outweigh the risks” (2012,  pg9). You often can’t go a day without hearing the term “damn she’s crazy” or something about the way people think being wrong. Many students don’t want to be labeled as “crazy” or think that because they have these problems or disorders that they cannot function like everyone else. I faced this myself with telling anyone about my depression and anxiety, mostly because I didn’t want people to pity me or think that I could handle situations or certain actions because I could become anxious or more upset. In reality mental health affects everyone at least once in their life and if it doesn’t affect them, someone they know is most likely affected in some way. “I was scared to let anyone know about my crisis because I did not want people to worry, did not know who I could turn to and did not want to get in trouble” (2012, pg 18). I was interested in creating an app for mental health to try to show a different side of mental health. That is why I had the information page, you can go to this page and see basic information on different types on disorders, how to help someone, how to diagnose someone, or for yourself to just learn more about what you are facing in your life. I hope that this app would also help those who suffered from mental health issues to come forward and share their stories and struggles to help reduce the stigma around mental issues


When originally doing research for my app I looked online and on the iTunes app store to see if there were any apps that were like this. On the iTunes app store I really couldn’t find many options for an app that was available to help educate and calm people in the same place. They are a lot of apps that would give you information about different mental issues, mostly for nurses or med students. Online I found a few websites that help with calming people, these site would give you options to have a “quite space” where you would use head phones to listen to calming ambient sounds and music and get to write out any things that were troubling or bothering you at the time. As you typed the sentence and then began to type the other the worlds would disappear from the text space, making the worries disappear(Quite Place 2014). This created the idea for the “my page” section of the app, so you could get the ideas out and not have to think about them so much. Other websites also had drawing pages or quotes to help inspire or make them feel not as alone.


This app is very private, for the sake of the individual. The only area’s that would be accessing any personal information or location is the search engine and my page. And they are both only used with permission and are password locked so you don’t have to worry about anything being released that you wouldn’t want. Privacy is important for this app because I would want those who use them to feel comfortable with using the app the way it is intended.

Field Research

My original field research was don’t done with this app in mind I did a shorter one at the Tuttleman Counseling Center waiting room. While there I noticed how many students didn’t interact with one another. No one spoke or even made eye contact. Probably because some felt awkward to be there, I know I did the first few times I went to see a counselor. This can relate back to the stigma of mental health and how it has a negative view.


Almost anyone would be able to use this app, except for those who have visual impairment. It would be difficult for those who are blind to use the app unless they had another app to help read it to them, all the features of the app should be fine to use though if visually impaired.


In conclusion I really want this app to help those who may not know much about mental health issues understand it more, as well as treat it like it should be. The stigma around mental health is one that isn’t looked at too often, “they need to publicize mental health issues more, instead of waiting until a student commits suicide to focus on problems” (2012, pg 19). I want this app to also help those who do suffer from mental issues to use the calming page to help them through panic attacks and other bad moments. As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety I would find this app extremely helpful, and would love if it could be more of a reality. I really enjoyed putting this project together, finding information about mental health and the ways that they can have less of a stigma. It made me feel less alone like I hope it does for others too.


Visual Design

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Work Cited:

Taylor, D. Insomnia and mental health in college students . Behavior sleep medicine, 9, 107-116.

Nursing Standard . . Retrieved May 6, 2014, from

The Quite Place. (n.d.). project. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from

I Want You Safe: Calming Websites . (n.d.). . Retrieved April 15, 2014, from

Gruttadaro, D., & Crudo, D. (2012). College Students Speak: A Survey Report on Mental Illness. Arlington, VA: National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.