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MobileDNA: Relating Physiological Stress Measurements to Smartphone Usage to Assess the Effect of a Digital Detox

Book Contribution - Book Chapter Conference Contribution

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018. The ever-connected world created by smartphones has led to initiatives like a ‘digital detox’, in which smartphone users consciously disconnect from email, social media and internet in general for a certain period of time. Since research based on subjective self-reports indicates that extensive smartphone usage and stress are often related, we checked whether a digital detox is effectively associated with a decrease in stress in the short-term and whether this could be measured with objective markers of both smartphone usage and physiological stress. More particularly, we monitored participants for two consecutive weeks: one week of normal smartphone usage and one week of digital detox. We asked them to continuously wear a state-of-the-art wristband device, measuring physiological stress based on skin conductance (SC). In addition, we developed an app called ‘mobileDNA’ to capture detailed information on which apps participants use throughout the day and how much time they spend on them. Although this was a pilot study with a rather low sample size, we found decreased levels of stress during a digital detox week. This finding provides evidence that a digital detox can be an interesting coping mechanism for people experiencing problematic smartphone usage and that further and more extensive research with our methodology has a lot of potential in the future.
Pages: 356 - 363
Publication year:2018
Authors from:Government, Higher Education