Changing Computer-Usage Behaviours: What Users Want, Use, and Experience

by   Mina Khan, et al.

Technology based screentime, the time an individual spends engaging with their computer or cell phone, has increased exponentially over the past decade, but perhaps most alarmingly amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many software based interventions exist to reduce screentime, users report a variety of issues relating to the timing of the intervention, the strictness of the tool, and its ability to encourage organic, long-term habit formation. We develop guidelines for the design of behaviour intervention software by conducting a survey to investigate three research questions and further inform the mechanisms of computer-related behaviour change applications. RQ1: What do people want to change and why/how? RQ2: What applications do people use or have used, why do they work or not, and what additional support is desired? RQ3: What are helpful/unhelpful computer breaks and why? Our survey had 68 participants and three key findings. First, time management is a primary concern, but emotional and physical side-effects are equally important. Second, site blockers, self-trackers, and timers are commonly used, but they are ineffective as they are easy-to-ignore and not personalized. Third, away-from-computer breaks, especially involving physical activity, are helpful, whereas on-screen breaks are unhelpful, especially when they are long, because they are not refreshing. We recommend personalized and closed-loop computer-usage behaviour change support and especially encouraging off-the-computer screentime breaks.


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