For more than a year, between a show and a Zoom call, the mobile screen has become a faithful companion of our days. Perhaps too much, as excessive exposure to blue light emitted by these devices is known to risk damaging vision and making it difficult to sleep soundly. Other than that, there are a thriving debate on the psychological damage that excessive digitization is bringing, particularly adolescents, more exposed to toxic dynamics such as bullying or social addiction.
Until now, the analyzes carried out on the use of mobile devices were based mainly on the time spent browsing the different websites or using social networks and other applications, such as games, which by their nature can trigger addictive reactions because a pleasure Momentary precedes the spasmodic desire to experience more. However, surveys of this type are often relied upon for self-assessment, but anyone who has set a limit on browsing time on their phone knows full well that we tend to underestimate data such as time spent on entertainment apps. Another criticality of the previous studies refers to the amount of information volunteers were exposed to: even knowing that, for example, they had spent an hour on social networks, it was impossible for them to remember exactly what they had seen, because the stimuli were too numerous, and therefore identifying the cause of the mental states that followed the navigation. it became very difficult. More detailed studies have been carried out in the field of marketing: in 2019, after 15 years, the new edition of the study from the Nielsen Norman Group was published, which returns a representation of how we read online. Interestingly, the license to access the content costs $ 98 (otherwise you can read a short summary): later we will also mention the economic dynamics that can be triggered to access data of this type.
For these reasons, according to scholars in a group at Stanford University, this type of approach did not provide enough information and instead it was necessary to investigate how people look at screens throughout navigation in order to make hypotheses about what they damage the screens. abuse of such technology.
Therefore, the Human Screenome Project conceived by this group of researchers examines variables that are different from time alone.. Byron Reeves, the psychologist who came up with the idea for the project, explained it in detail in a Article its Nature.
The work is configured as a gigantic collection of data, since all 600 study participants were monitored in each browsing session. When one of the volunteers turned on his device, a software called Screenomics was started, which every five seconds made a screenshot, which was encrypted and transmitted to the researchers, thus giving a diachronic representation of what appeared on the screen, for a total of 30 million images to analyze.
Screenomics also allows you to detect what is happening on different platforms, which are synchronized to follow the different browsing sessions of the user either using a smartphone or using a PC. In this sense, the results are more accurate than those returned by Smart watch me fitness trackerBut the staff is working on even more accurate software, which can return images from every second of browsing instead of every five.
Thanks to this approach, diverse information can be extracted, for example, it can be done studies on the effectiveness of multitasking, on the differences in information processing, on how much the frequency of power-on affects aspects such as anxiety and stress.
On the project website it is reported An example which makes it perfectly clear how two people navigate differently who could have given the same answers on a self-assessment questionnaire.
But Reeves is not satisfied: according to him, if we want to fully understand what impact stimuli from a technological device have on our psyche, it is necessary to measure physical reactions (for example, the accelerated heartbeat). Therefore, Reeves hopes that companies that have already found ways to collect this data (for example, with a Smart watch) you can make them available in an integrated system with Screenomics images.
In a period when the big names in Silicon Valley already have many problems on the privacy and cookie front, there could be difficulties, but the truth is that the results of such work could be tempting for other companies as well. For now, then, let’s see: at a technical level it seems more manageable than at a legal and industrial level.