Google has released new data regarding its Digital Wellbeing initiative.
Staff user experience researchers at Google Julie Aranda and Safia Baig published results of a study about disconnecting. The study encompassed data from 19 participants from the U.S and Switzerland aged 18 to 65.
Additionally, they used previously collected data from 112 participants in China, Japan, Singapore, Sweden and the U.S. This data was gathered over a period of two years.
There were surprisingly few differences across cultures, countries, genders, age groups and devices. Pretty much everyone struggles with disconnecting from their smartphone.
There are two main reasons for this. The first, according to Aranda and Baig, is that there are engaging things to do on your phone. The second reason is that people feel a social obligation to reply to things quickly.
Furthermore, data found that people look forward to intentional disconnections, such as a vacation. However, unintentional disconnection, such as running out of battery, caused stress and anxiety for many people.
Intentional disconnection helps
To solve these problems, Aranda and Baig suggested three things.
Phones should provide users with help disconnecting. At the most basic, that means providing users with insight into how they use their phone through tools like Digital Wellbeing and YouTube’s Time Watched profile.
Additionally, devices should allow for partial disconnection. Modes like ‘Do Not Disturb’ which limit notifications to just the essentials help users disconnect. App timers help users manage their use of specific apps as well, giving them some access without letting them go overboard.
App timers also help reduce the temptation to re-engage with apps.
Furthermore, Aranda and Baig noted that a shift in industry focus could help limit re-engagement. The duo wrote in the study that they think “the technology industry’s focus on engagement metrics is core to the attention crisis that users are facing.”
However, convincing the tech industry to change measures of success from engagement metrics to something else is a difficult task. Considering many of the biggest tech companies rely on engagement to make money, it seems almost impossible.