Michael Mercier | Digital Addiction Researcher & Theorist; Founder & President of Screen Education

Michael Mercier

Digital Addiction Researcher & Theorist; Founder & President of Screen Education

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Cincinnati, Ohio

Michael Mercier

Michael Mercier is Founder and President of Screen Education, which conducts research, and provides training and consulting services, on the impact of information technology on human wellness.

Mr. Mercier has conducted 18 research studies on digital addiction with teens, college students, summer campers, parents, Millennials, and full-time employees. His research has examined the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical consequences of digital addiction, as well as its impact on academic performance and workplace productivity and safety. He also has studied the benefits people derive from digital detoxes.

He has spoken on smartphone addiction to schools, corporate audiences, colleges and summer camps, as well as at numerous conferences, including educational technology, summer camp, mindfulness, workplace safety, and marketing conferences. His research partners have included EMI Research Solutions, Stark Statistical Consulting, Camp Kern, Camp Ernst, Camp Livingston, The Jewish Community Center Association of North America, Hiram College, BOLDFISH, and Calvert Catholic High School.

Mr. Mercier has presented his research to US Congressmen Jim Jordan and Brad Wenstrup and to the legislative staffs of US Senators Brown, Hawley, Markey, Portman, and Sasse. Congressman Wenstrup made a House floor speech about his findings on cyberbullying, and he co-organized with the Congressman a local roundtable discussion with educators on the role that social media plays in bullying and school violence. During the 2020/2021 academic year, he will be teaching several courses on tech addiction at Cincinnati State's Workforce Development Center. He has been interviewed on a variety of radio and television shows.

He holds a BA in Psychology from Vassar College, an MBA in Marketing from the University of Michigan, and an MS in MIS from the University of Cincinnati.

Michael Mercier
Featured Video

Current: Speaking Reel

Time 13:47

Michael Mercier
Featured Keynote Programs

Incorporating The Digital Detox Into Your School's Digital Wellness Regimen

A digital detox is a period of several consecutive days during which we refrain from using digital screens. Screen Education’s research on digital detoxes has found when young people experience a digital detox they gain enormous mental health benefits. For some young people a digital detox can even be transformational; they may be motivated to retire social media accounts, they may feel their compulsion to use screens diminish substantially, and they may be able to effortlessly reduce their overall screen time. The benefits are even more pronounced when they experience multiple digital detoxes over time.

Given these benefits, a digital detox can be an indispensable component of a school’s digital wellness regimen, and even has the potential to become a powerful touchstone experience that defines a school’s digital wellness culture.

In this talk, which is designed to assist schools in incorporating a digital detox experience into their school culture, Mr. Mercier covers the following topics:

- The conditions that define a digital detox
- The phases of a digital detox
- The mechanisms by which a digital detox benefits us
- Tips on what to do before, during, and after a digital detox to make it optimally beneficial
- Screen Education’s research findings on the benefits kids gain from a digital detox
- How schools can encourage, and/or facilitate, digital detox experiences
- Existing channels for providing students with a digital detox experience
- New possibilities for providing students with a digital detox experience
- The role parents and schools each can play in facilitating a digital detox
- The importance of assuming a spirit of bold experimentation in making a digital detox part of school culture

NOTE: This talk is appropriate for individual groups of teachers, administrators, and parents, or for mixed groups.

Addressing Problems Caused By Excessive Social Media Use

Every day teachers witness the negative consequences of excessive social media use among students. They see distracted students who can’t concentrate, don’t complete homework assignments, and don’t study for exams. They witness the tension, anxiety, and depression from cybergossip, cyberdrama, cyberconflict, and cyberbullying. They see students who lack basic social skills, and who are starved for human connection because so much of their socializing is done primarily through screens.

In this talk Mr. Mercier shows teachers how they can play a role in addressing the problems caused by excessive social media use. He first lays the foundation for a deeper understanding of the problem, and then provides a blueprint for addressing the problem. The talk covers the following topics:

What really makes social media addictive.
How social media fosters a toxic social environment.
How the notifications from the vast number of connections kids have through multiple social media platforms frequently makes them feel overwhelmed, burdened, and anxious.
How Screen Education’s research reveals kids want relief from social media, but feel pressured to remain active on it.
How Screen Education’s research shows kids feel tremendous relief and joy when they do get a break from social media for several days.
The need to establish rules about social media use during class.
How to demonstrate for kids what they are missing when they spend so much time on social media.
How to educate kids about the mechanisms of social media addiction.
How to educate kids about the features that make for a toxic social environment.
How to motivate kids to spend less time on social media by eliciting and mirroring their genuine feelings about it.
How do introduce and reinforce new and contrary virtues, values and behaviors that challenge kids to make healthy choices as regards social media use.

Addressing Tech Addiction By Transforming School Culture

Tech addiction takes a tremendous toll on schools. It compromises students’ classroom behavior, academic performance, and emotional and physical health. It also corrodes the school’s social environment.

It’s imperative that we address tech addiction immediately --- but how? Smartphones are ubiquitous, and a very strong majority of students use the most addictive applications continuously throughout the day, and for a great number of hours. Applying simplistic, one-time, quick-fixes won’t work. Instead, we must address tech addiction by changing school culture.

In this talk Mercier leverages the unique insights his organization’s research has generated to present his multi-faceted road map for schools to address tech addiction by forging a digital wellness school culture.

He first addresses the challenge of getting all school stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, and administrators) on-board with the goal of creating a digital wellness culture at their school.

He next addresses the need to educate all stakeholders to ensure they intellectually grasp the deeper nature of the problem of tech addiction, and the implications for how to address it.

He then lays out an approach to integrating into the school’s existing value system the virtue of spending substantially less time using screens recreationally, and more time engaging in non-screen activities.

And he demonstrates why we must complement these approaches with a set of restrictions on recreational tech use at school, including the need for impactful consequences and consistent enforcement.

This talk can be geared to audiences of just one individual stakeholder group of teachers, administrators, students or parents, or, to a mixed audience that includes two or more of these stakeholder groups.

Keeping Work Safe By Eliminating Smartphone Distraction

Smartphone distraction is a rampant problem in the workplace. Research conducted by Mr. Mercier’s organization, Screen Education, indicates that it causes a massive loss in productivity, breeds frustration and conflict, and increases the risk of accidents.

Smartphone distraction is especially problematic in industrial workplaces, where accidents can cause injury and death, and thereby put companies at risk for lawsuits, insurance claims, equipment repair costs, lost production time, damage to their reputation, and lost future business.

Industrial companies must mitigate this risk by forging a bold workplace culture that aggressively deters smartphone distraction in the workplace. Forging such a culture requires a multi-faceted approach --- one that combines setting policies that restrict phone use, thoroughly educating employees about the reasoning behind the policy, and creating customs that emphasize values, character traits, and practices that support a smartphone distraction-free environment.

Mr. Mercier’s employee seminar --- Keeping Work Safe By Eliminating Smartphone Distraction --- assists companies in forging such a bold workplace culture. The seminar teaches employees how smartphone addiction occurs, how it affects them, how it puts them at far greater risk for accidents during work, how this puts the safety of themselves and others at risk, and how this, therefore, puts the entire company and their livelihood at risk. It goes on to address why every employee has an obligation to not only comply with their employer’s smartphone policy --- but to also be a proactive force in reinforcing and supporting that policy within the company, and by helping to hold others to the highest standard of responsible smartphone use.

Michael Mercier
Featured Reviews

Michael Mercier
Featured Articles & Resources

How Cell Phones Affect Your Productivity (And Safety) At Work

A 2017 survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam found the average office employee spends 56 minutes per day using their cell phone during work hours for non-work activity,...
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