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Google publishes new research on digital well being

Google Blog: “As researchers on the Android team, we spend a lot of time out in the world, listening to our users. To do our best work, we leave our passions behind. Objectivity is key. But it’s hard not to develop empathy, especially when you start to notice that not everything about people’s experience with technology is positive. As early as 2015, we noticed that increasingly, people we talked to were raising a flag about how distracting notifications on mobile devices can be. So we started thinking a lot about the role of notifications on people’s phones, and how we could build a better experience to help people achieve balance. We started with some small changes in Android Nougat, like bundling notifications and making it easier to reply to a message without opening the app. But we knew there was more that we could do to understand how phones might be making it harder for people to disconnect, and the frustration this was generating. So last year my colleague Safia Baig and I embarked on a research project to do that, and we’ve just published the results.

Toward “JOMO”: the joy of missing out and the freedom of disconnecting. MobileHCI ’18 Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and ServicesArticle No. 19. Barcelona, Spain — September 03 – 06, 2018 ACM New York, NY, USA ©2018. table of contents ISBN: 978-1-4503-5898-9. doi 10.1145/3229434.3229468. “We took an ethnographic approach to explore the continuum between excessive smartphone use and healthy disconnection. We conducted a qualitative mixed-methods study in Switzerland and the United States to understand the nature of the problem, how it evolves, the workarounds that users employ to disconnect, and their experience of smartphone disconnection. We discussed two negative behavioral cycles: an internal experience of habit and excessive use, and an externally reinforced cycle of social obligation. We presented a taxonomy of non-use based on the dimensions of time and user level of control. We highlighted 3 potential areas for solutions around short-term voluntary disconnection and describe recommendations for how the mobile industry and app developers can address this issue.”

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