Academic Digital Writer

[DIGITAL SURVEY] Raising Children in a Digital Age Edition 2 with @LionHudson, supported by @ManMetUni

In 2014, I published Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst, with Lion Hudson. A new edition of this book has now been commissioned, and I am once again undertaking a survey to crowdsource insights into your insights into how we can all help create a more positive online environment for ourselves and our children, and more confidence for those looking after children.

You may be a parent, a carer, a teacher, a grandparent, an aunty/uncle, a youth leader, or other with a concern for online health and safety. The insights collected from this survey will be used within the updated version of the book, related academic journal articles, and any associated public engagement, such as public lectures, media appearances, or taught sessions.

The survey comprises 6 short sections, largely freetext, asking you about yourself, the positives and concerns you have about digital and children, any practices you undertake with children in relation to their digital health, any thoughts your children may have, and a space for feedback as to what you would like to see in the new book. It is anticipated that this will take under 15 minutes of your time – please read each question carefully – responses in bullet point form are entirely fine!

Completing the questionnaire is entirely voluntary and anonymous, respondents can withdraw at any time until final submission, and is run upon software provided by Manchester Metropolitan University.

Please find the Raising Children in a Digital Age survey here (consent information is on the first page). The survey is open from 26th February until 13th April 2020.


[EVENT] #UKPfR – UK Parliament for Researchers

I took a range of notes from yesterday’s excellent event (might come back and share a few), but there were also a few tweets:


[CANCER] Returning to Work after #Chemotherapy 1 #BreastCancer #BusyLivingwithMets

So, Tuesday last week, after 1.5 days on the chemo ward, I had completed my first round of docetaxel, perjeta and Herceptin. My cousin had headed back to London, another friend dropped me off, and the PJs went straight on … I was exhausted but also hyper on the steroids – so, as I have continued to do, for the rest of the week, taken Zopiclone each night which seems to give me a good sleep (I know it’s not ideal, but then neither is pumping toxic poison and another cocktail of drugs into your body).

On Wednesday I was still high on steroids, so my friend Natalie and her family came round – she and Preston do public social media, rest of family doesn’t:

They helped me put a few more pictures up in my house, which when you spend SO much time in your own house helps it all feel more like a place of sanctuary – plus I’ll think of the person who helped me every time I look at the item! I still think of a friend who gave me a dishwasher in my last house every time I use the new one in this house … yes, I’m a very people focused person!

On Thursday, my face was still steroid red, and spots popping up all over the place, plus the nosebleeds had been going for 2 days (nasal hairs clearly gone), and I’d had to start the stomach injections (they help regrow white blood cells, so give me a greater chance of not being admitted to hospital):

On Friday I made it out for a walk very early – sleeping tablets means going to sleep early – trying to keep up with at least one lot of fresh air each day, even if it’s only 1km round the block


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Caught some early fresh air … now … book/Tv/nap?! #whatcancerlookslike

A post shared by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

And then my friend Helen (who’s been through breast cancer herself, and is looking at setting up some kind of physical chemo buddies scheme for people living on their own/single parents, etc.) came with some food (McDonalds vanilla milkshake, turkey sausages/mash/veg, rice pots, banana/bio-free yoghurt, small piece daughter’s cake), watered my plants, emptied dishwasher, etc. so I could crash on the sofa! She took this picture:

By Friday night into Saturday the muscular aches and pains had truly kicked in (not sure if that the docetaxel of the filgrastim injections to be honest):

Helen came back to see me with another Macdonalds milkshake and some more food (chopped melon, cheesy pasta (which I added some tuna/sweetcorn to) and some more veggies). I’ve also used up some baked potato/salad, some ginger biscuits, toast mostly.

I haven’t done a jigsaw puzzle for, probably 30+ years, but I have been given 3, so took the most recently given, and also some Willy Wonka on the iPhone game (this is alongside Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, some social media chit-chat, and a few books (see my Goodreads):


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Bit of game type stuff in between naps and Netflix … #chemotherapy

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I will say that by today I have run out of steam on the jigsaw, so very happy for any help from others, but I’ll pick it up again at some point!

Easter Sunday I was really happy to be able to follow lots of Easter events via social media (you can hear my friend Bryony’s sermon), and particularly love this painting by Hallowed Art:

By the afternoon I felt a little better, and went out for a longer walk (quite nice having walks in the sunshine, rather than snow showers, as per my last chemo!):


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Another meander … lovely summer weather. There’s a lot of #cheese I still need to try, right?! #sunshine #freshair

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And can I say I just love the text with this Instagram on why can you please not talk to me about your diet?! Oh, and isn’t #LineofDuty building up well…

Onto Bank Holiday Monday (honestly, I mostly don’t know what day it is), and my friends Emma & Yee Gan came to see me with brunch en route to the Lake District – and yes, my mouth is a horrendous mess of mulch by this point, and my stomach has gone to town, but – need to eat (chemo is a time even medics don’t want trying to lose weight!):


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Lovely visitors – bringing brunch – have a lovely holiday guys!! #busylivingwithmets

A post shared by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

Most of my energy had gone by the afternoon, so I went round the block before lying down with some chick lit:


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Lovely visitors – bringing brunch – have a lovely holiday guys!! #busylivingwithmets

A post shared by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

Yesterday I had a bit of energy left, and did lots of those small jobs I’d put off for ages… helping get my desk clear, ringing DFS re sofa stains, ringing USS re what should I know about my pension (I hate phone calls, give me email every day), scanning some things in, doing a bit of touch up paint, couple of parcels to the post office, deleted many work emails so tomorrow I can action some – and discovered that I have a ‘Revise and Resubmit’ for my article I submitted before Christmas on WW2 VD posters, watering plants, doing my washing, watching a bit of #missiodeidigital

*life does not stop for cancer, so if you’re ever around and want to put things away, water plants, weed, etc…

Also got some nice suggestions on things to try and eat (I’ve been having a lot of acid sweets/pops) with chemo mouth:

Rachel Riley from @LifeKitchen has sent me a recipe for Harissa Salmon which I just need a couple more ingredients for, so can get them on the way home! Also checking out the pineapple tacos… not a huge fan of actual pineapple – how can I get non-woody pineapple?!

Also yesterday, my contribution to an Audible series on The Christie came out, and:

I’ve been shortlisted for a ‘Cancer Research UK, Patient Involvement’ role on the ‘Cancer Insights Panel (Research & Strategy). It’s largely a voluntary role although expenses and a small £ are given for each meeting.

I have a telephone interview on Monday, to talk more about my application statements (cancer experience; why interested in role; good comms skills; able to give constructive feedback; group work; how up to date with cancer (social media groups); which areas of cancer particularly interested in (digital culture, selling the vision).

I need to look back at CR_UK recent obesity campaign – ‘advantages-disadvantages of such a bold campaign’. I’ve already said I wasn’t particularly a fan, so now thinking more about what others LIKED about it, and Beyond Chocolate et al, what did we find problematic with it! This is the same as I would do, assuming allowed to crowdsource thinking – about any meetings involved in!

This post seems to be an important one to share related to it:


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#Repost @carolynviggh with @download_repost ??? A common criticism of body acceptance is that it is “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle” or that people will “twist the message of HAES to excuse their laziness and unhealthy choices” • And while a facepalm ????? is usually my first response to these kinds of comments, I also understand where they are coming from: • We live in a world where disordered eating, body shame, and forcing bodies to shrink by any means necessary is associated with “health.” We are constantly told that to be “healthy” we need to lose weight, starve ourselves, avoid anything that tastes good, force ourselves to workout even when we are exhausted, and prioritize the way we look over the way feel. • If this were true, like diet culture wants us to believe it is, then OF COURSE body acceptance would feel like some kind of health sabotage. When body manipulation and deprivation are synonymous with “health,” then permission to let go of weight loss pursuits, eat in a way that prioritizes abundance and satisfaction, rest, and treat your body with kindness and love – that sounds like a recipe for disaster. • But think about it – is deprivation, over working yourself, and ignoring your mental and emotional health in the name of weight loss actually healthy? NO! It’s not. It’s not healthy. Forcing your body to survive in a stressed, exhausted, restricted, and undernourished state is NOT “taking care of yourself” – no matter what size your body is. • And I can’t forget to mention that people who experience body shame and weight stigma are less likely to take part in behaviors that are actually healthy (like exercise and eating vegetables). And I would venture to guess (though there is no study I know of yet on this) that shame and stigma probably make people more likely to turn to harmful escapist behavior like alcohol, drugs, smoking, excessive screen time, compulsive shopping, ect. • AND OF COURSE the actual physical results of dieting for weight loss is weight cycling – which ultimately leads to overall weight gain and increased disease risk. • (Cont. in comments)

A post shared by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

I don’t have a problem with what the research may show, but I wish the campaign had been more of a #ThisGirlCan type one, rather than reading rather as ‘you’re obese, that’s your fault, therefore it’s your fault you got cancer, and we’re not actually going to give you any clues as to what do about that’ (though I think current diet-focused medical advice wouldn’t have helped either!):

Today, however, I am officially back at work, heading in for a short meeting, trying to deal with the emails/read some library books I need to finish for my article on ‘Finding a Voice: An Auto-Ethnography of Cancer in a Digital Age’ (drawing on the content that I’ve shared online, interacted with, throughout my cancer experience). Quite like to get my to-do list sorted too… not necessarily all today!

[ACADEMIC] Checking in with @4NTWRKSMCR for #DSMMCM1819

I received a Twitter DM yesterday evening, from a group of students who I taught in the first year, and who have kept in touch with me over the past couple of years (pretty impressive when you consider that I’ve been away from work for most of the last two academic years). They are seeking ‘backlinks’ for their ‘Digital and Social Media Marketing Communications Management’ project, a final year unit where @groovegenerator encourages students to see who can come out top on Google search, Twitter, etc. for the hashtag #DSMMCCM1819.

I like working with students who are keen to pursue their studies, and chuck themselves into challenges 100%, and particularly seeing the development from first year to final year. As the first group to ask, and because the group have kept in touch, and I have seen what the group have done for the unit throughout the year – as well as watching the hashtag in general, I said I would post something if they gave me a few words on what they felt they had learnt from ‘Digital Media and Marketing Platforms’ (DMMP) which I’d taught them in the first year. This is what they sent me:

The DMMP days, we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students, eager and ready to learn whatever the unit’s teaching team would throw at us. We should also mention that this was the first time ‘4 NTWRKS MCR’ banded together for an assignment and since then we have been inseparable! Little did we know how vital the knowledge we gained in DMMP would prove for DSMMCM1819.

Dr Bex took us under her wing, taught us about blogging and helped us set up our first WordPress site, so to us, it was a piece of cake to set-up the 4 NTWRKS MCR site. We learned invaluable skills with regard to search engine marketing, something we are grateful for…  that has been a key component of our final year unit. We’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve revisited our first-year notes! We also gained awareness of databases such as YouGov, Google Analytics and Google Trends – a lecture couldn’t go by without a look at Google Trends!!! Last but not least, the assignment pushed us to produce a creative video marketing idea, as a result, we were exposed to a whole new world of filming and editing, skills that proved beneficial when making our recent DSMMCM1819 YouTube video.

Without putting in the hard work, we are under no illusion that we would have been stuck, Googling for days and most certainly regretting not getting more involved! Dedication, hard work and the support and encouragement from Dr Bex helped us succeed.

Our advice to any student in DMMP? Make the most of the time you spend with the teaching team, they have a wealth of knowledge that will not only help you for your assignment, but for later units and potentially in your job or further studies search.

I look forward to seeing which group leads the pack, and wins the trophy … and takes up any invitation to undertake networking (check out Manchester Digital,, including Tech for Good!


[CANCER] Lecturers to take part in #Swimathon in support of colleague

The following story has just been posted on Manchester Metropolitan University Intranet:

A group of lecturers are taking part in the world’s biggest annual Swimathon to raise money for cancer charities.

The team of digital marketing lecturers in the Faculty of Business and Law are completing the challenge in support for their colleague Dr Bex Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.

The Swimathon is a national challenge that raises money for Marie Curie – a charity that provides care and support for people living with any terminal illness ­– and Cancer Research UK ­­– a charity looking for a cure.

The challenge will see over 21,000 swimmers across 600 pools across the UK swim as far as they can on the weekend of 29-31 March.

Bex said:

“My work colleagues and I are doing this because cancer is horrific, and I want a cure!

“We joined the challenge when I thought my ‘cancer treadmill’ was flattening out. Unfortunately, my cancer has metastasised into my spine (thankfully small), so I’m about to enter more treatment.

“I’ve been using swimming to get myself back to fitness but due to treatments, swimming will have to stop soon, so I’ve already completed my 1.5k!

“My team at Manchester Met are amazing and have been so supportive throughout this whole process.”

The team of eight have set themselves a goal to swim at least 10k across the weekend.

Jeff McCarthy, Senior Lecturer, who is usually a fell runner, said:

“I’m doing this to support Bex and the horrendous experience she’s been through since her cancer diagnosis – also for all other cancer sufferers out there and their families and friends.

“I don’t include swimming in any training I do, so doing about 40-60 lengths will be a challenge. We’re a really supportive group of colleagues within a wider team and I was proud to be asked to help in this way.

“Please help us by spreading the word, sponsoring or just virtually cheering us along on social media – it all helps.”

To donate to the team and to keep up with their progress, please visit their Just Giving page.