Reflections on my Research Image

Haifa Alroqi is a PhD student School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities. Here she reflects upon her image, which was the Public Vote Winner at the 2015 Research Image Awards.

One of the greatest things about the University of Manchester is that it provides its students with a range of opportunities to engage with the research community and present their work in various formats, thereby enriching their learning experience.

The task of capturing my research in one image was challenging yet rewarding. My research investigates the impact of TV and electronic media use on the language development of young children. As Professor Matthew Lambon Ralph noted before announcing my name as the winner of People’s Choice Image Award, I have a special connection to the people in the image. I took a picture of my own children, Abdulaziz and Majida, while they were using electronic devices. As many other parents, I try to moderate my children’s screen time, but it is not always easy. In today’s digital world, TV, tablets and smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. Recent revolutions in communication technology have definitely made our lives much easier; however, I believe, as technology has brought distant people closer together, it has also driven close people apart. It had led us to spend less quality time with our own babies and children who need real-life interaction to develop their language and social skills.

Although getting children to pose for pictures is not always an easy task, capturing this image was not difficult! I just handed a smartphone and a tablet to my children and let them do their thing. I did not give instructions; they did not have to act; they just did what any other child would do when handed an electronic device; it was all natural! And they did a brilliant job! What I captured was a familiar sight one can see almost every day and everywhere. I believe it is this familiarity and feeling of reality that made my image the People’s Choice.

The inspiration behind this image was my own children, and young children I see in restaurants, buses, or waiting rooms, staring at their devices, deprived from quality time with their parents, and especially the little ones who even struggle with speech and communication. To all those children, I dedicate my research.

As a PhD researcher just beginning my journey, being shortlisted, seeing my image displayed at the Whitworth Hall along with 15 brilliant shortlisted images capturing “Research in Action”, discussing my work with faculty and fellow researchers, attending the MDC Awards with my two very supportive supervisors, Dr Thea Cameron-Faulkner and Dr Ludovica Serratrice, and then being announced as the winner of People’s Choice Image Award was an amazing experience and a memorable achievement.

I highly recommend other researchers to take part in the competition next year. In today’s fast-paced world, capturing research in one image is a creative way to communicate your research to an interdisciplinary audience and to the general public in a way that is highly accessible and easy-to-understand, and remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.