Article

Technology Supported Behavior Restriction for Mitigating Self-Interruptions in Multi-device Environments

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Abstract

The interruptions people experience may be initiated from digital devices but also from oneself, an action which is termed “self-interruption.” Prior work mostly focused on understanding work-related self-interruptions and designing tools for mitigating them in work contexts. However, self-interruption to off-tasks (e.g., viewing social networking sites, and playing mobile games) has received little attention in the HCI community thus far. We conducted a formative study about self-interruptions to off-tasks and coping strategies in multi-device working environments. Off-task usage was considered a serious roadblock to productivity, and yet, the habitual usage and negative triggers made it challenging to manage off-task usage. To mitigate these concerns, we developed “PomodoLock,” a self-interruption management tool that allows users voluntarily to set a timer for a fixed period, during which it selectively blocks interruption sources across multiple devices. To understand the effect of restricting access to self-interruptive sources such as applications and websites, we conducted a three-week field trial (n=40) where participants were asked to identify disrupting apps and sites to be blocked, but the multi-device blocking feature was only provided to the experimental group. Our study results showed the perceived coercion and the stress of the experimental group were lower despite its behavioral restriction with multi-device blocking. Qualitative study results from interviews and surveys confirm that multi-device blocking significantly reduced participants’ mental effort for managing self-interruptions, thereby leading to a reduction in the overall stress level. The findings suggest that when the coerciveness of behavioral restriction is appropriately controlled, coercive design can positively assist users in achieving their goals.

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... Examples include tools, such as FocusMe [ 44 ] and Freedom [ 45 ], which restrict access to Facebook or the internet. An interview study found that this restriction is viewed positively by people who find it difficult to self-regulate distractions [ 23 ]. ...
... For example, Freedom [ 45 ] and FocusMe [ 44 ] both use blocking as a means for improving people's focus. PomodoLock [ 23 ] was a research prototype that allowed users to block applications and websites that they considered distracting, across devices for a fixed period. The blocking feature in PomodoLock was viewed positively by participants, who found it difficult to mitigate self-interruptions themselves. ...
... The tendency to attend to irrelevant information is similar to so-called chains of diversion , where the user diverts from the current task and forgets the original objective [ 15 , 18 ]. Previous work has explored tools that aim to prevent these diversions during a task, for example by enabling users to group windows needed for the same task [ 42 ] and disable switches to distracting sources [ 23 ]. Study 1 illustrates that these types of interventions may not be appropriate in situations where people do not know they need certain sources until they have started the task, and often need to access the sources they find distracting for work. ...
Article
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Many computer tasks involve looking up information from different sources, and these self-interruptions can be disruptive. In this article, we investigate whether giving people feedback on how long they are away from their task influences their self-interruption behaviour. We conducted a contextual inquiry on self-interruption behaviour in an office workplace. Participants were observed to postpone physical interruptions until a convenient moment in the task if they were expected to take time. In contrast, observations revealed that digital interruptions were addressed immediately; participants reported these were presumed to be quick to deal with. To increase awareness of time spent on digital interruptions, we developed TimeToFocus, a notification tool showing people the duration of their interruptions while working on a task. A field study deployment of TimeToFocus in an office workplace found that feedback on the duration of interruptions made participants reflect on what they were doing during interruptions. They reported that they used this insight to avoid task-irrelevant activities. To confirm whether participants’ perceptions of the benefit of the tool could be measured, we conducted an online experiment, where participants had to retrieve information from an email sent to their personal email addresses and enter it into a spreadsheet. Participants who used our tool made shorter interruptions, completed the spreadsheet task faster and made fewer data entry errors. We conclude that feedback on the length of interruptions can assist users in focusing on their primary task and thus improve productivity.
... In addition, people can be triggered to further self-interrupt their work for other off-task activities (Jin & Dabbish, 2009). As a result, there now exists a large number of tools that aim to support people in avoiding digital distractions (Lyngs, 2018): for example, a common approach is to temporarily block interruptions (Kim, Cho, & Lee, 2017). A blocking approach may be useful to avoid some distractions, but is insufficient for dealing with inquiries for a number of reasons. ...
... The second contribution of the thesis is that it shows that inquiries are handled differently than task-irrelevant self-interruptions: whereas irrelevant interruptions may be ignored, depending on individual differences in ability to self-control interruptions (Lyngs, 2018), inquiries have to be addressed in order to progress with work. Contrary to the idea that focus on an activity can be improved by temporarily blocking distracting sources (Kim et al., 2017), my work shows that inquiries to distracting sources are considered part of the activity, and need different treatment. ...
... Mark, Gonzalez, & Harris (2005) observed office workers, and found half of all interruptions are self-interruptions, and that self-interrupted tasks were less likely to be resumed later than tasks that were stopped by an external interruption. An interview study on interruption management strategies found major differences in the level of difficulty for users to manage external versus self-interruptions (Kim et al., 2017). Whereas external interruptions may be ignored or deferred, self-interruptions require more self-control, and are experienced as harder to resist and as more distracting. ...
Conference Paper
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Computer-based work often involves looking up information from different sources. Though these interruptions are required to progress with work, switching away from a task can be disruptive: it slows people down, increases errors and it is challenging to remain focused on work. This thesis investigates how interruption management tools can better support people in managing these types of work-required interruptions in the context of data entry work. The first part of the thesis reports two qualitative studies looking at understanding data entry in an office setting. They demonstrate that physical interruptions are postponed until a convenient moment in the task if they are expected to take time, but digital interruptions are addressed immediately as these are presumed to be quick to deal with. The second part of the thesis reports three controlled experiments to test the hypothesis that people manage interruptions by avoiding time costs. Results show that if people are able to learn the expected time costs of digital interruptions, they avoid interruptions with a high time cost. They reduce the number of these interruptions and postpone them until later in the task, and address interruptions with low time costs first. The third part of the thesis reports an online experiment and a field study that evaluate a design intervention showing people the duration of their interruptions. These studies demonstrate that making people aware of the time costs of digital interruptions makes people reflect on what they were doing during an interruption, reduces the duration of interruptions, and makes people faster and more accurate in completing data entry tasks. Taken together, this thesis demonstrates that people manage interruptions based on expected time costs, and that giving people feedback on the time they spend on interruptions can help them manage their interruptions better. It makes a theoretical contribution by showing how people adapt to small changes in time costs by reducing the number and duration of interruptions, and postponing them until later in a task. It makes a practical contribution by showing that giving people feedback on time costs can help them to reduce the duration of interruptions, and improve their focus on the task at hand.
... Other plugins can block access to particular apps or websites at particular times of the day or on demand by the user [2-4, 7, 46]. PomodoLock [35] combines timeboxing, a productivity technique that focuses the worker on a task for a defined time frame, with distraction blocking across multiple devices. These tools all rely on the user to recognize when they are susceptible to distractions and then willingly self-initiate blocking. ...
... Once the computer is unlocked or activity resumes, UpTime considers the user to be back. This state is used to trigger a 25-minute blocking session (we chose 25 minutes for blocking following [35]) and an event is sent to the server that sends a chat message to the user. ...
... No blocking was done or even mentioned. In the two weeks that followed, participants experienced the UpTime system for one week and experienced a version emulating Kim et al. 's PomodoLock system [35] for one week. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Work breaks--both physical and digital--play an important role in productivity and workplace wellbeing. Yet, the growing availability of digital distractions from online content can turn breaks into prolonged "cyberloafing". In this paper, we present UpTime, a system that aims to support workers' transitions from breaks back to work--moments susceptible to digital distractions. Combining a browser extension and chatbot, users interact with UpTime through proactive and reactive chat prompts. By sensing transitions from inactivity, UpTime helps workers avoid distractions by automatically blocking distracting websites temporarily, while still giving them control to take necessary digital breaks. We report findings from a 3-week comparative field study with 15 workers. Our results show that automatic, temporary blocking at transition points can significantly reduce digital distractions and stress without sacrificing workers' sense of control. Our findings, however, also emphasize that overloading users' existing communication channels for chatbot interaction should be done thoughtfully.
... Being multi-purpose devices, phones represent a source of distraction in the workplace and workers tend to not use them when they want to focus [31]. So using this device might cause a collection of fewer labels and risk to increase workers' distraction. ...
... The application captures user interactions with the screen as a proxy for phone usage [13]. In the workplace environment, the phone is usually not the main work device and it is instead considered a source of distraction [31]. We thus expect a more intense usage of the phone during breaks. ...
... One participant failed to install our data collection tools and did not provide valid data. Our data set thus contains data from 13 users (9 males and 4 females, 7 of age in the range 20-30 and two in [30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40]. At the onset of the study, we organized a workshop during which we explained the data collection procedure and asked participants to sign an informed consent agreement. ...
Article
Personal informatics systems for the work environment can help improving workers' well-being and productivity. Using both self-reported data logged manually by the users and information automatically inferred from sensor measurements, such systems may track users' activities at work and help them reflect on their work habits through insightful data visualizations. They can further support interventions like, e.g., blocking distractions during work activities or suggest the user to take a break. The ability to automatically recognize when the user is engaged in a work activity or taking a break is thus a fundamental primitive such systems need to implement. In this paper, we explore the use of data collected from personal devices -- smartwatches, laptops, and smartphones -- to automatically recognize when users are working or taking breaks. We collect a data set of of continuous streams of sensor data captured from personal devices along with labels indicating whether a user is working or taking a break. We use multiple instruments to facilitate the collection of users' self-reported labels and discuss our experience with this approach. We analyse the available data -- 449 labelled activities of nine knowledge workers collected during a typical work week -- using machine learning techniques and show that user-independent models can achieve a (F1 score) of 94% for the identification of work activities and of 69% for breaks, outperforming baseline methods by 5-10 and 12-54 percentage points, respectively.
... Specific functionalities of digital well-being apps have been also explored through research prototypes usually implementing tracking and notifications [44,45], whereas others included also specific interventions for limiting use [21,46]. For instance, the Socialize [22,47] app integrates the most common functionalities of tracking, data presentation, real-time notifications, and blocking use, which were evaluated in the wild with 38 young people over 3 weeks. ...
... Our final set consisted of 39 digital well-being apps (Multimedia Appendix 1 [19,21,22,31,34,[44][45][46]48,49,[51][52][53][54][55][56][57]), which were analyzed through two complementary methods: first, a review of their functionalities based on their descriptions from Google Play and, second, an autoethnography with the authors (SA and CS), as HCI experts directly interacting with them in order to viscerally understand how these functionalities work and are experienced by potentially users in their daily lives. Such interactions were iterated, involving at least two sessions for each app, lasting for at least 30 minutes. ...
... We have explored the functionalities of the apps described in the 17 papers by applying the above coding system to their description, as not all of them were available to download from app marketplaces. All the tables provided in Multimedia Appendices 1-7 [19,21,22,31,34,[44][45][46]48,49,[51][52][53][54][55][56][57] include information on both commercial and academic apps. ...
Article
Background: Much research in Human-Computer Interaction has focused on wellbeing and how it can be better supported through a range of technologies from affective interfaces to mindfulness systems. At the same time, we have seen a growing number of commercial digital wellbeing apps. However, there has been limited scholarly work reviewing these apps. Objective: This paper reports on an auto-ethnographic study and functionality review of the most popular 39 commercial digital wellbeing apps on Google Play Store and 17 apps described in academic papers. Methods: From 1250 apps on Google Play Store we selected 39 digital wellbeing apps and from Google Scholar we identified 17 papers describing academic apps. Both sets of digital wellbeing apps were analyzed through a review of their functionalities based on their descriptions. The commercial apps were also analyzed through autoethnography where the first author interacted with them to understand how these functionalities work and may be experienced by users in their daily lives. Results: Findings indicate that these apps focus mostly on limiting screen time and we advanced a richer conversation about such apps articulating the distinction between monitoring use, tracking use against set limits, and four specific interventions supporting limited use. Conclusions: We conclude with six implications for designing digital wellbeing apps including the call to move beyond screen time and support the broader focus of digital wellbeing, supporting meaningful use rather than limiting meaningless use, leveraging (digital) navigation in design for friction, supporting collaborative interaction to limit phone overuse, supporting explicit, time-based visualizations for monitoring functionality, and ethical design of digital wellbeing apps.
... In relation to this, a lot of research has been done, and many products have been released in the markets. To mitigate the use of smartphones and help users avoid distraction, blocking notifications or smartphone use is a popular method [5,4,3,6]. According to behavioral psychology, blocking can be viewed as a "commitment device", which is a voluntarily imposed restriction to accomplish a personal goal [7]. ...
... So far existing blocking methods may be context-aware but reactive. For a given context, users need to initiate a blocking tool to achieve their usage goals [4,6]. Kim et al. proposed a location-based method that recommends blocking in the user-defined locations (e.g., classrooms [3]). ...
... As illustrated earlier, commitment devices are often used to voluntarily restrict their actions for positive behavioral changes. However, commitment devices are only useful, when they actually self-initiated such restrictions [4]. If people forget to start such restrictions, or their willpower becomes weak, commitment devices are no longer effective. ...
Conference Paper
College students are exposed to smartphone distraction during study-related contexts (e.g., classrooms, self and group studies). This constant distraction may lower their academic performance. In this work, we built a simple context-aware proactive blocking prototype to explore the patterns of focusing contexts, and to evaluate user experiences of proactive blocking for distraction management in study-related contexts for college students. Our preliminary user study shows the positive effects of proactive blocking. We discuss several design implications for context-aware proactive blocking and semi-automated logging for distraction management.
... Smartphones have introduced much convenience to our daily lives. However, recent studies also highlight the negative impacts of smartphones on productivity [24], safety [26], and physical/mental health [19,39]. Individuals are well-aware of these negative aspects and often employ various strategies (e.g., muting or turning off the phones) in an attempt to regulate usage. ...
... Individuals are well-aware of these negative aspects and often employ various strategies (e.g., muting or turning off the phones) in an attempt to regulate usage. However, empirical studies have emphasized the difficulties associated with self-regulation and the needs for supporting tools [18,24,25,29]. ...
... In addition, the use of social learning and competition were determined to have positive results in mitigating smartphone use [27,28]. Alternatively, there are more direct interventions such as enabling a blocking mode for self-restricting use [8,24,29,35]. Furthermore, various forms of direct interventions can be delivered in a proactive way; e.g., creating inconvenience by delaying user interaction [7], generating irritative vibration for overuse limitation [40], inserting a mandatory cognitive task before app use [44], and proactively blocking in a predefined context [22,23]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Instant access and gratification make it difficult for us to self-limit the use of smartphone apps. We hypothesize that a slight increase in the interaction cost of accessing an app could successfully discourage app use. We propose a proactive intervention that requests users to perform a simple lockout task (e.g., typing a fixed length number) whenever a target app is launched. We investigate how a lockout task with varying workloads (i.e., pause only without number input, 10-digit input, and 30-digit input) influence a user's decision making, by a 3-week, in-situ experiment with 40 participants. Our findings show that even the pause-only task that requires a user to press a button to proceed discouraged an average of 13.1% of app use, and the 30-digit-input task discouraged 47.5%. We derived determinants of app use and non-use decision making for a given lockout task. We further provide implications for persuasive technology design for discouraging undesired behaviors.
... Existing self-limiting methods mostly presume user-initiated timeboxing whenever a user must enable self-limiting features to block potential distraction. While this approach ofers a great autonomy to the user, prior studies warned a lack of user engagement over time [32,49]. Designing sustained intervention engagement is critical for successful behavioral change. ...
... A variant of this study is temporary blocking or restriction of smartphone usage based on a user's predefned rules (e.g., time/physical activity [46], location-based blocking [31]). For example, Kim et al. [32] studied the efects of selfinterruption management tools that restrict access to predefned non-productive applications in multi-device environments. The study designed "PomodoLock," a software tool that utilizes timeboxing to manage self-interruption in concentration mode initiated by the user. ...
... As mentioned above, it is critical to design an intervention system that sustains user engagement for efective control behavior. Despite the reported efects of the timeboxing technique, prior studies have also suggested that userinitiated timeboxing (e.g., manual operation and scheduling [32]) has a limited impact on the maintenance of the desired behavior, as users can arbitrarily stop their behavior anytime. To provide efective intervention, we adopted a system-driven timeboxing, which automatically starts timeboxing regardless of users' intentions. ...
... In this work, we consider smartphone usage mediation as a focusing lens for assessing how we design interactive technologies to bridge this gap. Smartphone overuse is an important problem owing to its various negative effects on physical [28] and mental health [52], safety [29,35], productivity [31,33], social relationships [37,41,67] and many more areas. ...
... The majority of prior studies have tackled this problem with behavior change strategies such as self-tracking /reflection to increase self-awareness and/or notification/dialog support to appraise and recommend positive behaviors [15,26,30,38]. In addition, recent studies have explored various restrictive approaches such as selective and complete smartphone blocking, and have documented some examples of positive effects (e.g., reducing distraction and increasing productivity) [26,31]. There are numerous commercial applications that leverage such self-limiting strategies [6,46,62] as well. ...
... There have also been applications that employ restrictive interventions targeting smartphone and media usage reduction. PomodoLock uses a timeboxing technique with a app/website blocker to restrict access to user-defined counterproductive sources across multiple devices to minimize self-interruptions in the workplace [31]. Coco's Videos uses a lockout mechanism to control media consumption by children [25]. ...
Article
Many people often experience difficulties in achieving behavioral goals related to smartphone use. Most of prior studies approached this problem with various behavior change strategies such as self-reflection and social support. However, little is known about the effectiveness and user experiences of restrictive and coercive interventions such as blocking. In this work, we developed "GoalKeeper," a smartphone intervention app that locks the user into the self-defined daily use time limit with restrictive intervention mechanisms. We conducted a four-week field experiment with 36 participants to investigate the effects and user experiences of varying intensities of restrictive interventions. The results showed that restrictive mechanisms are more effective than non-restrictive mechanisms such as warning. However, we found that restrictive mechanisms caused more frustration and pressure to the users, mainly due to diversity of usage contexts and needs. Based on our study results, we extracted practical implications for designing restrictive mechanisms that balance the intervention effectiveness for behavioral changes and the flexibility for user acceptability.
... Ondevice Restrict access [5,9] Real time feedback ...
... [2] Timebox current task [5] Usage information [15,16] Offdevice Restrict access [8] Ambient feedback [1] Usage information [16] RELATED WORK Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.57 billion in 2022 [3]. Meanwhile, research into problematic usage of smartphones shows possible impacts on psychological well-being [17] and sleep disruption [20]. ...
Conference Paper
There is a growing need to support people to counter problematic smartphone use. We analyse related research in methods to address problematic usage and identify a research gap in off-device retraining. We ran a pilot to address this gap, targeting automatic approach biases for smartphones, delivered on a Tabletop surface. Our quantitative analysis (n=40) shows that self-report and response-time based measures of problematic smartphone usage diverge. We found no evidence that our intervention altered reaction time-based measures. We outline areas of discussion for further research in the field.
... This kind of high responsiveness, however, may lead people to engage in habitual and frequent interactions, which often result in losing focus on their work [9] and social bonds around them [11]. There are several popular ways of mitigating such problems such as warning overuse [7] and blocking interaction [5,6]. ...
... There are some prior studies related to regulating the negative smartphone use. Kim et al. [6] showed that in work contexts, coercive intervention could help users to better regulate digital device use. Ko et al. [7] presented Lock n' LoL, a mobile application that aims to help people focus on their social group activities. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We propose an interaction restraint that aims to degrade interactivity of a device, for example, by asking users to perform a mandatory cognitive task whenever they start an interaction. This mechanism is designed to help users to self-reflect upon their interaction intent with the devices, and thus they can break the habit of unconscious frequent access to their smartphones. We perform a preliminary study to understand the design requirements of the cognitive tasks and develop a high-fidelity prototype. Our field trial clearly documents that a positive influence of interaction restraints on deterring habitual frequent use of smartphones.
... Empirical research has started testing such commercial applications (e.g., Freedom, and RescueTime) (Collins et al., 2014;Mark et al., 2018). Some researchers have also created their own applications, with the overall goal of reducing smartphone usage time (I. J. Kim et al., 2017;Ko et al., 2015;Okeke et al., 2018). In addition to using applications that help reduce smartphone usage time, different behavioural techniques (e.g., how to best set up one's smartphone, where to place the smartphone while working to be the least disturbed) have also become popular, but mostly they have not undergone empirical testing ( ...
... based curtailment of phone usage (i.e., when involved in a group activity, users could collectively block the apps of other group members; Ko, Choi, Yatani, & Lee, 2016). The group-based app succeeded in reducing smartphone distractions. There are further studies that provided evidence for the effectiveness of non-use apps (Foulonneau et al., 2016;J. Kim et al., 2017;Kim, Jung, et al., 2019;Ko et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
This field experiment aimed to address the issue of problematic smartphone usage (PSU) by examining the effectiveness of two frequently advised techniques to deal with PSU: moving problematic applications to a different page of the phone and changing the phone into greyscale. For one week, 97 student participants used their smartphone under one of the following three conditions: move app, greyscale, or control condition. Compared to the week before the intervention, participants significantly reduced their objective smartphone usage, but their self-reported PSU increased. These effects also emerged in the control group, which might have been due to heightened awareness of the participants of their smartphone usage. A major implication of the study is the need of using multiple outcome measures to understand the complex relationship between perceptions and behaviour. This study could be used as a blueprint for future research examining the effectiveness of interventions in the field of PSU.
... The results of the studies showed that the countermeasure was successful in improving self-regulation and that peers in the group encouraged each other in reducing the time spent on smartphones. Individual-based limit setting intervention studies focused on creating usage restriction rules [120], limiting by setting time for non-use [121,122] or limiting by setting time for use [123]. Instead of limiting by blocking usage, which is the general trend, Hiniker et al. [123] developed an app where participants set how much time they want to spend with certain apps in their phones and were presented with a timer, a timeout message, and a self-defined aspiration message when one reaches the use goal. ...
... It was suggested that delivery of software mediated interventions can be improved with context-dependent interventions, for example, through the use of location-based reminders, which can be activated in class or work settings [118,119]. Monitoring the use across multiple platforms were also suggested to improve software mediated interventions as this will limit addictive behaviour in a more comprehensive style [121]. ...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, the notion of digital addiction has become popular. Calls for solutions to combat it, especially in adolescents, are on the rise. Whilst there remains debate on the status of this phenomenon as a diagnosable mental health condition; there is a need for prevention and intervention approaches that encourage individuals to have more control over their digital usage. This narrative review examines digital addiction countermeasures proposed in the last ten years. By countermeasures, we mean strategies and techniques for prevention, harm reduction, and intervention towards addictive digital behaviours. We include studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 2010 and 2021 and based on empirical evidence. In total, 87 studies were included in the review. The findings show that the main countermeasures could be grouped under four categories: psycho-social, software mediated, pharmacological, and combined. Overall, it has been shown that the proposed countermeasures were effective in reducing addictive digital use. However, a general statement on the efficacy of proposed countermeasures cannot be made due to inconsistent conceptualisation of digital addiction and methodological weaknesses. Accordingly, this review highlights issues that need to be addressed in future studies.
... Whether the behaviour referred to as cyberloafing is bad for the people themselves is, of course, another question. Meanwhile, in the human-computer interaction (HCI) literature, a broad range of terms like 'smartphone non-use' (Hiniker et al., 2016), 'self-interruption' (Kim, Cho, et al, 2017), or 'self-control failure' (Lyngs et al., 2020) is used. Self-control has a clear construct and a model that further sheds light on the mechanisms behind frequent use of distracting content. ...
... ductivity (#5a) or a distraction (#5b) framing.#6 Terry et al. (2016 Daily text messages with facts about the negative effects of media multitasking. #7a #7b Whittaker et al. (2016) meTime -An always-on dashboard that showed the last used applications. Longer use of an application resulted in a larger display of this application in the dashboard.#8Kim, Cho, et al. (2017) PomodoLock -Distracting apps and websites were blocked for 25-min intervals on both smartphone and PC.#9a #9b ...
Article
Full-text available
Digital distractions can interfere with goal attainment and lead to undesirable habits that are hard to get red rid of. Various digital self‐control interventions promise support to alleviate the negative impact of digital distractions. These interventions use different approaches, such as the blocking of apps and websites, goal setting, or visualizations of device usage statistics. While many apps and browser extensions make use of these features, little is known about their effectiveness. This systematic review synthesizes the current research to provide insights into the effectiveness of the different kinds of interventions. From a search of the ‘ACM’, ‘Springer Link’, ‘Web of Science’, ’IEEE Xplore’ and ‘Pubmed’ databases, we identified 28 digital self‐control interventions. We categorized these interventions according to their features and their outcomes. The interventions showed varying degrees of effectiveness, and especially interventions that relied purely on increasing the participants' awareness were barely effective. For those interventions that sanctioned the use of distractions, the current literature indicates that the sanctions have to be sufficiently difficult to overcome, as they will otherwise be quickly dismissed. The overall confidence in the results is low, with small sample sizes, short study duration, and unclear study contexts. From these insights, we highlight research gaps and close with suggestions for future research.
... This distinction leaves many social computing systems that have built on existing systems outside of the scope of our discussion. For example, research tools have often piggybacked off of social computing systems to promote other goals, such as embedding microtasks into social feeds for productivity [43] or temporarily blocking or altering social websites to encourage a person to do other activities [1,49,54,72]. The interventions of these systems may have a side-effect of potentially reducing how frequently people use that system to communicate, but modifying social interaction was not the primary intent. ...
Preprint
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The CSCW community has a history of designing, implementing, and evaluating novel social interactions in technology, but the process requires significant technical effort for uncertain value. We discuss the opportunities and applications of "piggyback prototyping", building and evaluating new ideas for social computing on top of existing ones, expanding on its potential to contribute design recommendations. Drawing on about 50 papers which use the method, we critically examine the intellectual and technical benefits it provides, such as ecological validity and leveraging well-tested features, as well as research-product and ethical tensions it imposes, such as limits to customization and violation of participant privacy. We discuss considerations for future researchers deciding whether to use piggyback prototyping and point to new research agendas which can reduce the burden of implementing the method.
... Let's FOCUS, an Android and iOS app letting users enter a 'virtual room' where notifications and apps are blocked; links to location or time None Kim et al. 2017[89] ...
Preprint
Many people struggle to control their use of digital devices. However, our understanding of the design mechanisms that support user self-control remains limited. In this paper, we make two contributions to HCI research in this space: first, we analyse 367 apps and browser extensions from the Google Play, Chrome Web, and Apple App stores to identify common core design features and intervention strategies afforded by current tools for digital self-control. Second, we adapt and apply an integrative dual systems model of self-regulation as a framework for organising and evaluating the design features found. Our analysis aims to help the design of better tools in two ways: (i) by identifying how, through a well-established model of self-regulation, current tools overlap and differ in how they support self-control; and (ii) by using the model to reveal underexplored cognitive mechanisms that could aid the design of new tools.
... Because information devices (e.g., computers, smartphones) have become an integral part of people's work, as well as a source of distraction, many productivity tracking systems enable people to record device usage behaviors to provide insights into their usage patterns. Some systems consider screen time as distractive, thereby restricting specific apps (e.g., [26]) or locking smartphones for a specified duration (e.g., [25,29,30]) when people need to focus on their tasks. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Productivity tracking tools often determine productivity based on the time interacting with work-related applications. To deconstruct productivity's diverse and nebulous nature, we investigate how knowledge workers conceptualize personal productivity and delimit productive tasks in both work and non-work contexts. We report a 2-week diary study followed by a semi-structured interview with 24 knowledge workers. Participants captured productive activities and provided the rationale for why the activities were assessed to be productive. They reported a wide range of productive activities beyond typical desk-bound work—ranging from having a personal conversation with dad to getting a haircut. We found six themes that characterize the productivity assessment—work product, time management, worker's state, attitude toward work, impact & benefit, and compound task—and identified how participants interleaved multiple facets when assessing their productivity. We discuss how these findings could inform the design of a comprehensive productivity tracking system that covers a wide range of productive activities.
... Lack of cross-device tracking: We logged Facebook use on laptop only and did not quantify effects of the interventions on cross-device use. It is important in future work to assess potential 'spillover' effects between devices when applying interventions meant to scaffold self-control [49,54,46], and so we encourage follow-up studies to explore how our methods could be supplemented by, e.g., smartphone logging. Retrospective self-report: In the surveys and interviews, participants retrospectively reported their experience, which is subject to recall biases [43,74]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Beyond being the world's largest social network, Facebook is for many also one of its greatest sources of digital distraction. For students, problematic use has been associated with negative effects on academic achievement and general wellbeing. To understand what strategies could help users regain control, we investigated how simple interventions to the Facebook UI affect behaviour and perceived control. We assigned 58 university students to one of three interventions: goal reminders, removed newsfeed, or white background (control). We logged use for 6 weeks, applied interventions in the middle weeks, and administered fortnightly surveys. Both goal reminders and removed newsfeed helped participants stay on task and avoid distraction. However, goal reminders were often annoying, and removing the newsfeed made some fear missing out on information. Our findings point to future interventions such as controls for adjusting types and amount of available information, and flexible blocking which matches individual definitions of 'distraction'.
... Several productivity tools (such as RescueTime, Focus, Moment, UnGlue) provide daily feedback that summarize users' digital habits so users can regulate their digital consumption. In addition to providing feedback, HCI researchers have studied the regulation of overuse through application blocking on an individual level [24,33], in groups [28,29], as a family [27], and in a classroom [23]. Our work extends the literature by investigating an approach that does not block users' access to services but nudges them to stop technology overuse. ...
Conference Paper
Digital overuse on mobile devices is a growing problem in everyday life. This paper describes a generalizable mobile intervention that combines nudge theory and negative reinforcement to create a subtle, repeating phone vibration that nudges a user to reduce their digital consumption. For example, if a user has a daily Facebook limit of 30 minutes but opens Facebook past this limit, the user's phone will issue gentle vibrations every five seconds, but the vibration stops once the user navigates away from Facebook. We evaluated the intervention through a three-week controlled experiment with 50 participants on Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform with findings that show daily digital consumption was successfully reduced by over 20%. Although the reduction did not persist after the intervention was removed, insights from qualitative feedback suggest that the intervention made participants more aware of their app usage habits; and we discuss design implications of episodically applying our intervention in specific everyday contexts such as education, sleep, and work. Taken together, our findings advance the HCI community's understanding of how to curb digital overload.
... There have been several approaches to improve people's focus. In order to mitigate self-interruptions, Kim, Cho and Lee [8] developed an intervention that allowed people to temporarily block specific sources that they considered distracting, such as email, IM applications and social media. However often these sources need to be accessed in order to complete the task they were working on. ...
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Data entry often involves looking up information from email. Task switching to email can be disruptive, and people can get distracted and forget to return to their primary task. In this paper, we investigate whether giving people feedback on how long they are away from their task has any effect on the duration and number of their switches. An online experiment was conducted in which participants had to enter numeric codes into an online spreadsheet. They had to look up these codes in an email sent to their personal email address upon starting the experiment. People who were shown how long they were away for made shorter switches, were faster to complete the task and made fewer data entry errors. This suggests feedback on switching duration may make people more aware of their switching behaviour, and assist users in maintaining focus on their main task.
... Other research projects have sought to support users in cutting back in targeted ways. The PomodoLock research project supported users in resisting self-interruptions while trying to focus on a task by locking them out of distraction experiences for short chunks of time [30]. The MyTime app had users set personal goals and reflect on how they would like to spend their time and then monitored certain types of phone use [24]. ...
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Prior research indicates that many people wish to limit aspects of their smartphone use. Why is it that certain smartphone use feels so meaningless? We examined this question by using interviews, the experience sampling method, and mobile logging of 86,402 sessions of app use. One motivation for use (habitual use to pass the time) and two types of use (entertainment and passive social media) were associated with a lower sense of meaningfulness. In interviews, participants reported feeling a loss of autonomy when using their phone in these ways. These reports were corroborated by experience sampling data showing that motivation to achieve a specific purpose declined over the course of app use, particularly for passive social media and entertainment usage. In interviews, participants pointed out that even when smartphone use itself was meaningless, it could sometimes still be meaningful in the context of broader life as a 'micro escape' from negative situations. We discuss implications for how mobile apps can be used and designed to reduce meaningless experiences.
... Our models could be also applicable to auditory-verbal interfaces in existing portable or in-vehicle interfaces. For safe driving reasons, our model can be used to warn and proactively limit user interactions (e.g., checking schedule changes) when drivers are classified as uninterruptible [13,35,36,38]. ...
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Auditory-verbal interactions with in-vehicle information systems have become increasingly popular for improving driver safety because they obviate the need for distractive visual-manual operations. This opens up new possibilities for enabling proactive auditory-verbal services where intelligent agents proactively provide contextualized recommendations and interactive decision-making. However, prior studies have warned that such interactions may consume considerable attentional resources, thus negatively affecting driving performance. This work aims to develop a machine learning model that can find opportune moments for the driver to engage in proactive auditory-verbal tasks by using the vehicle and environment sensor data. Given that there is a lack of definition about what constitutes interruptibility for auditory-verbal tasks, we first define interruptible moments by considering multiple dimensions and then iteratively develop the experimental framework through an extensive literature review and four pilot studies. We integrate our framework into OsmAnd, an open-source navigation service, and perform a real-road field study with 29 drivers to collect sensor data and user responses. Our machine learning analysis shows that opportune moments for interruption can be conservatively inferred with an accuracy of 0.74. We discuss how our experimental framework and machine learning models can be used to design intelligent auditory-verbal services in practical deployment contexts.
... Lock n' LoL [19] was designed to mitigate mobile phone distractions in the context of group activities. Kim et al. [17] studied negative aspects of off-task multitasking in multi-device environments and proposed an intervention system that supports time-boxing and multi-device blocking. They found that blocking software as a commitment device was positively perceived among participants, because it helped them to exert less willpower to self-control. ...
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With the increasingly frequent appearance of mobile phones in college classrooms, there have been growing concerns regarding their negative aspects including distractive off-task multitasking. In this work, we design and evaluate Let’s FOCUS, a software-based intervention service that assists college students in self-regulating their mobile phone use in classrooms. Our preliminary survey study (with 47 professors and 283 students) reveals that it is critical to encourage voluntary participation by framing intervention as a learning tool and to raise awareness regarding appropriate mobile phone usage by establishing social norms in colleges. Let’s FOCUS introduces a virtual limiting space for each class (or a virtual classroom) where the students can explicitly restrict their mobile phone use voluntarily. Furthermore, it promotes students’ willing participation by leveraging social facilitation and context-aware reminders associated with virtual classrooms. We conducted a campus-wide campaign for approximately six weeks to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed approach. The results confirm that 379 students used the app to limit 9,335 hours of mobile phone usage over 233 classrooms. Let’s FOCUS was used in diverse learning contexts and for different purposes and its social learning and context-awareness features significantly motivated prolonged participation. We present the design considerations of software-based intervention.
... The most ideal way would be blocking any usage while the vehicle is not stationary. This approach has been extensively studied in the field of human-computer interaction [32,33,36]. Unfortunately, prior studies have also shown that such restrictive approaches could not be less effective in practice [16,19]. ...
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As a countermeasure to visual-manual distractions, auditory-verbal (voice) interfaces are becoming increasingly popular for in-vehicle systems. This opens up new opportunities for drivers to receive proactive personalized services from various service domains. However, prior studies warned that such interactions can cause cognitive distractions due to the nature of concurrent multitasking with a limited amount of cognitive resources. In this study, we examined (1) how the varying demands of proactive voice tasks under diverse driving situations impact driver interruptibility, and (2) how drivers adapt their concurrent multitasking of driving and proactive voice tasks, and how the adaptive behaviors are related to driver interruptibility. Our quantitative and qualitative analyses showed that in addition to the driving-task demand, the voice-task demand and adaptive behaviors are also significantly related to driver interruptibility. Additionally, we discuss how our findings can be used to design and realize three types of flow-control mechanisms for voice interactions that can improve driver interruptibility.
... Lack of cross-device tracking: We logged Facebook use on laptop only and did not quantify the interventions' effects on cross-device use. It is important in future work to assess 'spillover' effects between devices when applying interventions meant to scaffold self-control [48,53,45], and so we encourage follow-up studies to explore how our methods can be supplemented by, e.g., smartphone logging. Retrospective self-report: In the surveys and interviews, participants retrospectively reported their experience, which is subject to recall biases [42,73]. ...
... However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the context in which people actually perceive smartphones to be distracting throughout the day. Existing studies have addressed the adverse effects of off-task smartphone use on daily contexts such as studying, attending classes [38,39], social interaction [43,67], and working [40]. These studies were mostly based on surveys and controlled experimental methods which acquiring in-situ contexts (e.g., current location and activity) and experiences related to smartphone distractions is challenging due to recall biases and limited scenarios. ...
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Smartphones are often distraction for everyday life activities. In this work, we envision designing a context-aware system that helps users better manage smartphone distractions. This system design requires us to have an in-depth understanding of users' contexts of smartphone distractions and their coping strategies. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the contexts in which users perceive that smartphones are distracting in their everyday lives. Furthermore, prior studies did not systematically examine users' preferred coping strategies for handling interruptions caused by smartphones, possibly supported by context-aware systems that proactively manage smartphone distraction. To bridge this gap, we collect in-situ user contexts and their corresponding levels of perceived smartphone distraction as well as analyze the daily contexts in which users perceive smartphones as distracting. Moreover, we also explore how users want to manage phone distraction by asking them to write simple if-then rules. Our results on user contexts and coping strategies provide important implications for designing and implementing context-aware distraction management systems.
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Digital intervention tools against problematic smartphone usage help users control their consumption on smartphones, for example, by setting a time limit on an app. However, today's social media apps offer a mix of quasiessential and addictive features in an app (e.g., Instagram has following feeds, recommended feeds, stories, and direct messaging features), which makes it hard to apply a uniform logic for all uses of an app without a nuanced understanding of feature-level usage behaviors. We study when and why people regret using different features of social media apps on smartphones. We examine regretful feature uses in four smartphone social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and KakaoTalk) by utilizing feature usage logs, ESM surveys on regretful use collected for a week, and retrospective interviews from 29 Android users. In determining whether a feature use is regretful, users considered different types of rewards they obtained from using a certain feature (i.e., social, informational, personal interests, and entertainment) as well as alternative rewards they could have gained had they not used the smartphone (e.g., productivity). Depending on the types of rewards and the way rewards are presented to users, probabilities to regret vary across features of the same app. We highlight three patterns of features with different characteristics that lead to regretful use. First, "following"-based features (e.g., Facebook's News Feed and Instagram's Following Posts and Stories) induce habitual checking and quickly deplete rewards from app use. Second, recommendation-based features situated close to actively used features (e.g., Instagram's Suggested Posts adjacent to Search) cause habitual feature tour and sidetracking from the original intention of app use. Third, recommendation-based features with bite-sized contents (e.g., Facebook's Watch Videos) induce using "just a bit more," making people fall into prolonged use. We discuss implications of our findings for how social media apps and intervention tools can be designed to reduce regretful use and how feature-level usage information can strengthen self-reflection and behavior changes.
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Background Inhibitory control, or inhibition, is one of the core executive functions of humans. It contributes to our attention, performance, and physical and mental well-being. Our inhibitory control is modulated by various factors and therefore fluctuates over time. Being able to continuously and unobtrusively assess our inhibitory control and understand the mediating factors may allow us to design intelligent systems that help manage our inhibitory control and ultimately our well-being. Objective The aim of this study is to investigate whether we can assess individuals’ inhibitory control using an unobtrusive and scalable approach to identify digital markers that are predictive of changes in inhibitory control. Methods We developed InhibiSense, an app that passively collects the following information: users’ behaviors based on their phone use and sensor data, the ground truths of their inhibition control measured with stop-signal tasks (SSTs) and ecological momentary assessments (EMAs), and heart rate information transmitted from a wearable heart rate monitor (Polar H10). We conducted a 4-week in-the-wild study, where participants were asked to install InhibiSense on their phone and wear a Polar H10. We used generalized estimating equation (GEE) and gradient boosting tree models fitted with features extracted from participants’ phone use and sensor data to predict their stop-signal reaction time (SSRT), an objective metric used to measure an individual’s inhibitory control, and identify the predictive digital markers. Results A total of 12 participants completed the study, and 2189 EMAs and SST responses were collected. The results from the GEE models suggest that the top digital markers positively associated with an individual’s SSRT include phone use burstiness (P=.005), the mean duration between 2 consecutive phone use sessions (P=.02), the change rate of battery level when the phone was not charged (P=.04), and the frequency of incoming calls (P=.03). The top digital markers negatively associated with SSRT include the standard deviation of acceleration (P<.001), the frequency of short phone use sessions (P<.001), the mean duration of incoming calls (P<.001), the mean decibel level of ambient noise (P=.007), and the percentage of time in which the phone was connected to the internet through a mobile network (P=.001). No significant correlation between the participants’ objective and subjective measurement of inhibitory control was found. Conclusions We identified phone-based digital markers that were predictive of changes in inhibitory control and how they were positively or negatively associated with a person’s inhibitory control. The results of this study corroborate the findings of previous studies, which suggest that inhibitory control can be assessed continuously and unobtrusively in the wild. We discussed some potential applications of the system and how technological interventions can be designed to help manage inhibitory control.
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With the increasingly frequent appearance of mobile phones in college classrooms, there have been growing concerns regarding their negative aspects including distractive off-task multitasking. In this work, we design and evaluate Let’s FOCUS, a software-based intervention service that assists college students in self-regulating their mobile phone use in classrooms. Our preliminary survey study (with 47 professors and 283 students) reveals that it is critical to encourage voluntary participation by framing intervention as a learning tool and to raise awareness regarding appropriate mobile phone usage by establishing social norms in colleges. Let’s FOCUS introduces a virtual limiting space for each class (or a virtual classroom) where the students can explicitly restrict their mobile phone use voluntarily. Furthermore, it promotes students’ willing participation by leveraging social facilitation and context-aware reminders associated with virtual classrooms. We conducted a campus-wide campaign for approximately six weeks to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed approach. The results confirm that 379 students used the app to limit 9,335 hours of mobile phone usage over 233 classrooms. Let’s FOCUS was used in diverse learning contexts and for different purposes and its social learning and context-awareness features significantly motivated prolonged participation. We present the design considerations of software-based intervention.
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Smart devices have arrived in our everyday lives. Being able to notify the user about events is a core feature of these devices. Related work investigated interruptions caused by notifications on single devices. In this paper, we investigate notifications in multi-device environments by analyzing the results of a week-long in-situ study with 16 participants. We used the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and recorded the participants' interaction with smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and PCs. Disregarding the type or content of notifications, we found that the smartphone is the preferred device on which to be notified. Further, we found that the proximity to the device, whether it is currently being used and the user's current location can be used to predict if the user wants to receive notifications on a device. The findings can be used to design future multi-device aware smart notification systems.
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We asked 12 people to disable notification alerts for 24 hours on all computing devices. We collected data through open post-hoc interviews and analyzed the qualitative data using Open Coding. The participants showed very strong and polarized opinions towards notification alerts. During work, some participants felt less stressed and more productive thanks to not being interrupted, however outside of the work context, some became stressed and anxious because they were afraid of missing important information and violating expectations of others. This is the first holistic approach to notifications studying their effect across services, devises and work and private life. In contrast to previous studies, some participants acted upon the positive experiences and turned notifications of some applications off.
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As people possess increasing numbers of information devices, situations where several devices are combined and used together have become more common. We present a user study on people's current practices in combining multiple information devices in their everyday lives, ranging from pragmatic tasks to leisure activities. Based on diaries and interviews of 14 participants, we characterize the usage practices of the most common devices, including smartphones, computers, tablets, and home media centers. We analyze 123 real-life multi-device use cases and identify the main usage patterns, including Sequential Use, Resource Lending, Related Parallel Use, and Unrelated Parallel Use. We discuss the practical challenges of using several information devices together. Finally, we identify three levels of decisions that determine which devices are used in a particular situation, including acquiring, making available, and selecting the devices for use.
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To help people enhance their personal productivity by providing effective feedback, we designed and developed TimeAware, a self-monitoring system for capturing and reflecting on personal computer usage behaviors. TimeAware employs an ambient widget to promote self-awareness and to lower the feedback access burden, and web-based information dashboard to visualize people's detailed computer usage. To examine the effect of framing on individual's productivity, we designed two versions of TimeAware, each with a different framing setting-one emphasizing productive activities (positive framing) and the other emphasizing distracting activities (negative framing), and conducted an eight-week deployment study (N = 24). We found a significant effect of framing on participants' productivity: only participants in the negative framing condition improved their productivity. The ambient widget seemed to help sustain engagement with data and enhance self-awareness. We discuss how to leverage framing effects to help people enhance their productivity, and how to design successful productivity monitoring tool.
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Though many people report an interest in self-limiting certain aspects of their phone use, challenges adhering to self-defined limits are common. We conducted a design exercise and online survey to map the design space of interventions for smartphone non-use and distilled these into a small taxonomy of intervention categories. Using these findings, we implemented "MyTime," an intervention to support people in achieving goals related to smartphone non-use. We conducted a deployment study with 23 participants over two weeks and found that participants reduced their time with the apps they feel are a poor use of time by 21% while their use of the apps they feel are a good use of time remained unchanged. We found that a small taxonomy describes users' diverse set of desired behavior changes relating to smartphone non-use, and that these desired changes predict: 1) the hypothetical features they are interested in trying, 2) the extent to which they engage with these features in practice, and 3) their changes in behavior in response to the intervention. We link users' desired behaviors to the categories of our design taxonomy, providing a foundation for a theoretical model of designing for smartphone non-use.
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Smartphones are capable of alerting their users to different kinds of digital interruption using different modalities and with varying modulation. Smart notification is the capability of a smartphone for selecting the user's preferred kind of alert in particular situations using the full vocabulary of notification modalities and modulations. It therefore goes well beyond attempts to predict if or when to silence a ringing phone call. We demonstrate smart notification for messages received from a document retrieval system while the user is attending a meeting. The notification manager learns about their notification preferences from users' judgements about videos of meetings. It takes account of the relevance of the interruption to the meeting, whether the user is busy and the sensed location of the smartphone. Through repeated training, the notification manager learns to reliably predict the preferred notification modes for users and this learning continues to improve with use.
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We report from the first holistic study of the effect of notifications across services, devices, and work and private life. We asked 12 people to disable notification alerts on all computing devices for 24 hours. Data was collected through open post-hoc interviews, which were analyzed by Open Coding. The participants showed very strong and polarized opinions towards the missing notification alerts. During work, some participants felt less stressed and more productive thanks to not being interrupted, however outside of the work context, some became stressed and anxious because they were afraid of missing important information and violating expectations of others. The only consistent findings across the participants was that none of them would keep notifications disabled altogether. Notifications may affect people negatively, but they are essential: cant live with them, can't live without them.
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With smartphones, tablets and laptops, it has become easier than ever to multitask constantly. How does the design of devices and applications encourage or discourage multitasking behavior? Given the ease and seamlessness of switching between goal-oriented tasks and distractions in a browser, and the propensity to lose track of time, our design team focused on increasing awareness of switching between browser tabs, and on increasing awareness of how time is spent within tabs. We designed a browser plug-in that automatically categorized URLs as work or non-work, altered tab color, size and placement, and added a status bar that displayed the total amount of time spent on a tab and overall in work/non-work mode. We conducted a two-week field study to evaluate the effects on browsing behavior. We found that modifying the browser design influenced multitasking: participants spent less time on non-work tabs, switched between tabs less frequently and spent more time on work-related websites.
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Despite benefits and uses of social networking sites (SNSs) users are not always satisfied with their behaviors on the sites. These desires for behavior change both provide insight into users' perceptions of how SNSs impact their lives (positively or negatively) and can inform tools for helping users achieve desired behavior changes. We use a 604-participant online survey to explore SNS users' behavior-change goals for Face-book, Instagram, and Twitter. While some participants want to reduce site use, others want to improve their use or in-crease a range of behaviors. These desired changes differ by SNS, and, for Twitter, by participants' levels of site use. Participants also expect a range of benefits from these goals, including increased time, contact with others, intrinsic ben-efits, better security/privacy, and improved self presentation. Based on these results we provide insights both into how par-ticipants perceive different SNSs, as well as potential designs for behavior-change mechanisms to target SNS behaviors.
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While distractions using digital media have received attention in HCI, understanding engagement in workplace activities has been little explored. We logged digital activity and continually probed perspectives of 32 information workers for five days in situ to understand how attentional states change with context. We present a framework of how engagement and challenge in work relate to focus, boredom, and rote work. Overall, we find more focused attention than boredom in the workplace. Focus peaks mid-afternoon while boredom is highest in early afternoon. People are happiest doing rote work and most stressed doing focused work. On Mondays people are most bored but also most focused. Online activities are associated with different attentional states, showing different patterns at beginning and end of day, and before and after a mid-day break. Our study shows how rhythms of attentional states are associated with context and time, even in a dynamic workplace environment.
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Mobile phones have evolved significantly in recent years from single-purpose communication devices to multipurpose computing devices. Despite this evolution, the interaction model for how incoming calls are handled has barely changed. Current-generation smartphones still use abrupt full-screen notifications to alert users to incoming calls, demanding a decision to either accept or decline the call. These full-screen notifications forcibly interrupt whatever activity the user was already engaged in. This might be undesirable when the user’s primary task was more important than the incoming call. This paper explores the design space for how smartphones can alert users to incoming calls. We consider designs that allow users to postpone calls and also to multiplex by way of a smaller partialscreen notification. These design alternatives were evaluated in both a small-scale controlled lab study as well as a large-scale naturalistic in-the-wild study. Results show that a multiplex design solution works best because it allows people to continue working on their primary task while being made aware that there is a caller on the line. The contribution of this work is an enhanced interaction design for handling phone calls, and an understanding of how people use it for handling incoming calls.
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With the increasing adoption of smartphones also a problematic phenomena become apparent: People are changing their habits and become addicted to different services that these devices provide. In this paper we present AppDetox: an app that allows users to purposely create rules that keep them from using certain apps. We describe our deployment of the app on a mobile application store, and present initial findings gained through observation of about 11,700 users of the application. We find that people are rather rigorous when restricting their app use, and that mostly they suppress use of social networking and messaging apps.
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Despite the abundance of research on social networking sites, relatively little research has studied those who choose not to use such sites. This paper presents results from a questionnaire of over 400 Internet users, focusing specifically on Facebook and those users who have left the service. Results show the lack of a clear, binary distinction between use and non-use, that various practices enable diverse ways and degrees of engagement with and disengagement from Facebook. Furthermore, qualitative analysis reveals numerous complex and interrelated motivations and justifications, both for leaving and for maintaining some type of connection. These motivations include: privacy, data misuse, productivity, banality, addiction, and external pressures. These results not only contribute to our understanding of online sociality by examining this under-explored area, but they also build on previous work to help advance how we conceptually account for the sociological processes of non-use.
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We report on an empirical study where we cut off email usage for five workdays for 13 information workers in an organization. We employed both quantitative measures such as computer log data and ethnographic methods to compare a baseline condition (normal email usage) with our experimental manipulation (email cutoff). Our results show that without email, people multitasked less and had a longer task focus, as measured by a lower frequency of shifting between windows and a longer duration of time spent working in each computer window. Further, we directly measured stress using wearable heart rate monitors and found that stress, as measured by heart rate variability, was lower without email. Interview data were consistent with our quantitative measures, as participants reported being able to focus more on their tasks. We discuss the implications for managing email better in organizations.
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This study examined the impact of cyberloafing on employees' emotion and work. We also examined gender differences in employees' perception towards cyberloafing. In general, respondents felt that some form of cyberloafing at work was acceptable. Men were also more likely to report that cyberloafing has a positive impact on work compared to women. As well, our findings suggest that browsing activities have a positive impact on employees' emotion while emailing activities have a negative impact. Results of our study provide useful insights for researchers and managers in understanding employees' attitudes towards cyberloafing, and how cyberloafing can result in gain or drain in employees' work productivity.
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Personal web usage can be defined as any voluntary act of employees using their company's web access during office hours to surf non-work related websites for non-work purposes. Previous research suggested that personal web usage is a negative force with productivity losses, congested computer resources, security costs, and the potential risk of legal liability. However, using qualitative research we investigated the attitudes of a diverse set of individuals to personal web usage. Our findings suggest that personal web usage in the workplace can be potentially constructive, although we acknowledge the potential for negative uses as well. We suggest an extension of social contract theory to explain these findings.
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Self-control is a central function of the self and an important key to success in life. The exertion of self-control appears to depend on a limited resource. Just as a muscle gets tired from exertion, acts of self-control cause short-term impairments (ego depletion) in subsequent self-control, even on unrelated tasks. Research has supported the strength model in the domains of eating, drinking, spending, sexuality, intelligent thought, making choices, and interpersonal behavior. Motivational or framing factors can temporarily block the deleterious effects of being in a state of ego depletion. Blood glucose is an important component of the energy.
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Most current designs of information technology are based on the notion of supporting distinct tasks such as document production, email usage, and voice communication. In this paper we present empirical results that suggest that people organize their work in terms of much larger and thematically connected units of work. We present results of fieldwork observation of information workers in three different roles: analysts, software developers, and managers. We discovered that all of these types of workers experience a high level of discontinuity in the execution of their activities. People average about three minutes on a task and somewhat more than two minutes using any electronic tool or paper document before switching tasks. We introduce the concept of working spheres to explain the inherent way in which individuals conceptualize and organize their basic units of work. People worked in an average of ten different working spheres. Working spheres are also fragmented; people spend about 12 minutes in a working sphere before they switch to another. We argue that design of information technology needs to support people's continual switching between working spheres.
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We present data from detailed observation of 24 information workers that shows that they experience work fragmentation as common practice. We consider that work fragmentation has two components: length of time spent in an activity, and frequency of interruptions. We examined work fragmentation along three dimensions: effect of collocation, type of interruption, and resumption of work. We found work to be highly fragmented: people average little time in working spheres before switching and 57% of their working spheres are interrupted. Collocated people work longer before switching but have more interruptions. Most internal interruptions are due to personal work whereas most external interruptions are due to central work. Though most interrupted work is resumed on the same day, more than two intervening activities occur before it is. We discuss implications for technology design: how our results can be used to support people to maintain continuity within a larger framework of their working spheres.
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This workshop will provide a focal point for research and technology dedicated to supporting behaviour change through Persuasion, Influence, Nudge and Coercion (PINC). A particular focus is on pervasive and mobile technologies and the unique opportunities they present in this domain (e.g. in terms of data-capture and timely intervention). Although much isolated research takes place tackling particular aspects of this problem space (e.g. persuasion), this workshop will be the first venue to provide a forum that discusses meta-issues that apply to behaviour change and pervasive technology, irrespective of how it is achieved. These issues include: (a) What novel opportunities do pervasive technologies provide? (b) When is the appropriate time to begin, reduce or end intervention? (c) Are PINC methods ethical? and (d) How can we extend the scale of intervention?Participants are invited to contribute to the workshop with examples of PINC technologies, and the event will focus on mapping the conceptual space, creating novel ideas and interactive applications and discussing future opportunities. Ultimately, the workshop aspires to establish a community dedicated to this topic.
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Research has demonstrated that information workers often manage several different computing devices in an effort to balance convenience, mobility, input efficiency, and content readability throughout their day. The high portability of the mobile phone has made it an increasingly valuable member of this ecosystem of devices. To understand how future technologies might better support productivity tasks as people transition between devices, we examined the mobile phone and PC usage patterns of sixteen information workers across several weeks. Our data logs, together with follow-up interview feedback from four of the participants, confirm that the phone is highly leveraged for digital information needs beyond calls and SMS, but suggest that these users do not currently traverse the device boundary within a given task.
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Examining several sources of data on smartphone use, this paper presents evidence for the popular conjecture that mobile devices are “habit-forming.” The form of habits we identified is called a checking habit: brief, repetitive inspection of dynamic content quickly accessible on the device. We describe findings on kinds and frequencies of checking behaviors in three studies. We found that checking habits occasionally spur users to do other things with the device and may increase usage overall. Data from a controlled field experiment show that checking behaviors emerge and are reinforced by informational “rewards” that are very quickly accessible. Qualitative data suggest that although repetitive habitual use is frequent, it is experienced more as an annoyance than an addiction. We conclude that supporting habit-formation is an opportunity for making smartphones more “personal” and “pervasive.”
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One possible reason for the continued neglect of statistical power analysis in research in the behavioral sciences is the inaccessibility of or difficulty with the standard material. A convenient, although not comprehensive, presentation of required sample sizes is provided. Effect-size indexes and conventional values for these are given for operationally defined small, medium, and large effects. The sample sizes necessary for .80 power to detect effects at these levels are tabled for 8 standard statistical tests: (1) the difference between independent means, (2) the significance of a product-moment correlation, (3) the difference between independent rs, (4) the sign test, (5) the difference between independent proportions, (6) chi-square tests for goodness of fit and contingency tables, (7) 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and (8) the significance of a multiple or multiple partial correlation.
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When participants allocated time across 2 tasks (in which they generated as many words as possible from a fixed set of letters), they made frequent switches. This allowed them to allocate more time to the more productive task (i.e., the set of letters from which more words could be generated) even though times between the last word and the switch decision ("giving-up times") were higher in the less productive task. These findings were reliable across 2 experiments using Scrabble tasks and 1 experiment using word-search puzzles. Switch decisions appeared relatively unaffected by the ease of the competing task or by explicit information about tasks' potential gain. The authors propose that switch decisions reflected a dual orientation to the experimental tasks. First, there was a sensitivity to continuous rate of return--an information-foraging orientation that produced a tendency to switch in keeping with R. F. Green's (1984) rule and a tendency to stay longer in more rewarding tasks. Second, there was a tendency to switch tasks after subgoal completion. A model combining these tendencies predicted all the reliable effects in the experimental data.
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We consider participatory parental mediation in which children engage with their parents in activities that encourage both parents and children to participate in co-learning of digital media use. To this end, we developed FamiLync, a mobile service that treats use-limiting as a family activity and provides the family with a virtual public space to foster social awareness and improve self-regulation. A three-week user study conducted with twelve families in Korea (17 parents and 18 teenagers) showed that FamiLync improves mutual understanding of usage behavior, thereby providing common grounds for parental mediation. Further, parents actively participated in use-limiting with their children, which significantly increased the children's desire to participate. As a consequence, parental mediation methods and parent-child interaction in relation to smartphone usage changed appreciably, and the participants smartphone usage amount significantly decreased.
Conference Paper
Our preliminary study reveals that individuals use various management strategies for limiting smartphone use, ranging from keeping smartphones out of reach to removing apps. However, we also found that users often had difficulties in maintaining their chosen management strategies due to lack of self-regulation. In this paper, we present NUGU, a group-based intervention app for improving self-regulation of limiting smartphone use through leveraging social support: groups of people limit their use together by sharing their limiting information. NUGU is designed based on social cognitive theory, and it has been developed iteratively through two pilot tests. Our three-week user study (n = 62) demonstrated that compared with its non-social counterpart, the NUGU users' usage amount significantly decreased and their perceived level of managing disturbances improved. Furthermore, our exit interview confirmed that NUGU's design elements are effective for achieving limiting goals.
Conference Paper
The negative effect of lapses during a behavior-change program has been shown to increase the risk of repeated lapses and, ultimately, program abandonment. In this paper, we examine the potential of system-driven lapse management -- supporting users through lapses as part of a behavior-change tool. We first review lessons from domains such as dieting and addiction research and discuss the design space of lapse management. We then explore the value of one approach to lapse management -- the use of "cheat points" -- as a way to encourage sustained participation. In an online study, we first examine interpretations of progress that was reached through using cheat points. We then present findings from a deployment of lapse management in a two-week field study with 30 participants. Our results demonstrate the potential of this approach to motivate and change users' behavior. We discuss important open questions for the design of future technology-mediated behavior change programs.
Conference Paper
Prior studies have addressed many negative aspects of mobile distractions in group activities. In this paper, we present Lock n' LoL. This is an application designed to help users focus on their group activities by allowing group members to limit their smartphone usage together. In particular, it provides synchronous social awareness of each other's limiting behavior. This synchronous social awareness can arouse feelings of connectedness among group members and can mitigate social vulnerability due to smartphone distraction (e.g., social exclusion) that often results in poor social experiences. After following an iterative prototyping process, we conducted a large-scale user study (n = 976) via real field deployment. The study results revealed how the participants used Lock n' LoL in their diverse contexts and how Lock n' LoL helped them to mitigate smartphone distractions.
Conference Paper
Numerous studies have tracked people's everyday use of digital devices, but without consideration of how such data might be of personal interest to the user. We have developed a personal tracking application that enables users to automatically monitor their 'screen time' on mobile devices (iOS and Android) and computers (Mac and Windows). The application interface enables users to combine screen time data from multiple devices. We trialled the application for 28+ days with 21 users, collecting log data and interviewing each user. We found that there is interest in personal tracking in this area, but that the study participants were less interested in quantifying their overall screen time than in gaining data about their use of specific devices and applications. We found that personal tracking of device use is desirable for goals including: increasing productivity, disciplining device use, and cutting down on use.
Chapter
Digital badges are online visual representations, accomplishments, skills, or awards that present the characteristics of physical merit badges or awards but go farther in providing validation to viewers in that they are linked to metadata or artifacts. Frameworks, models, and systems of digital badging implementation are just beginning to emerge in the educational and computer science research literature as the digital badging movement began in earnest only a few years ago. Some of the earliest implementations of digital badges included automated awards that still play a role in gamified learning designs. In both formal and informal education key purposes for digital badges include providing motivation, representing accomplishments, and communicating or sharing successes. A historical evolution of digital badges as well as examples of digital badge frameworks, models, and uses in and for education are presented with the intention of providing a basis for initial exploration.
Article
Cyberloafing is employees' intentional use of Internet technology during work hours for personal purposes. This can include surfing non-work related Internet sites, sending personal emails, online gaming, or social networking. Given the prevalence of cyberloafing and its negative consequences (e.g., reduced productivity, network clogging, security breaches), organizations have responded by implementing Internet use policies, filtering or monitoring Internet activity, and disciplining policy violators. Recently, attention has shifted away from identifying methods to limit cyberloafing to pinpointing the causes of cyberloafing. This emerging research suggests that employees are more likely to cyberloaf when they are treated unfairly, have certain characteristics like external locus of control or higher work status, have positive attitudes toward cyberloafing, or there are norms supporting it. The authors offer directions for future research that include exploring the possibility that cyberloafing can lead to positive outcomes like increased job performance, reduced stress, and work-life balance.
Conference Paper
Mitigating the consequences of disruptive smartphone interruptions remains a challenging problem for smartphone designers. Proposed solutions often incorporate machine-learning techniques with remedies that include delaying user notifications until an opportune moment or changing the intensity and/or mode of the notification (fewer rings, vibration mode). This paper describes a new machine-learning approach that aims to maintain the quality of mitigation under concept drift - unforeseen changes in context or the user's behaviour over time. We demonstrate our approach by developing an application for Android phones to mitigate disruptive phone calls (RingLearn). We report on a field trial of the application conducted over 2 months with 10 users and suggest that long-term mitigation can be practical with careful design that addresses concept drift.
Article
While most traditional user interfaces are intended to pursue "convenience" by eliminating user operations and by typically automating tasks, some new categories of HCI, such as health support, may require explicit human participation and effort to achieve long-term benefits. In these areas, interfaces that require interactions that promote users to perform explicit activities, rather than interfaces that solely perform tasks on behalf of users, are becoming increasingly important. This trend can be a further challenge of interaction design, and we refer it as "inconvenient interactions". In this paper, we discuss why carefully designed inconveniences can enrich our lives, and provide preliminary but concrete examples. We also propose our guidelines for the design of these inconvenient interactions.
Article
The negative aspects of smartphone overuse on young adults, such as sleep deprivation and attention deficits, are being increasingly recognized recently. This emerging issue motivated us to analyze the usage patterns related to smartphone overuse. We investigate smartphone usage for 95 college students using surveys, logged data, and interviews. We first divide the participants into risk and non-risk groups based on self-reported rating scale for smartphone overuse. We then analyze the usage data to identify between-group usage differences, which ranged from the overall usage patterns to app-specific usage patterns. Compared with the non-risk group, our results show that the risk group has longer usage time per day and different diurnal usage patterns. Also, the risk group users are more susceptible to push notifications, and tend to consume more online content. We characterize the overall relationship between usage features and smartphone overuse using analytic modeling and provide detailed illustrations of problematic usage behaviors based on interview data.
Article
The goal of this study is to explore and analyze the effectiveness of a possible countermeasure to this so-called “cyberloafing” problem through a technical solution of Internet filtering and monitoring. Through a multi-theoretical lens, we utilize operant conditioning as well as one's psychological morals of procedural justice and social norms to study the effectiveness of such countermeasure in addressing the associated agency problem and promoting behavior compliance with the organization's Internet usage policy. We find confirmation and quota modules of Internet filtering and monitoring also can prevent shirking and promote better compliance through employee empowerment and attention resource replenishment.
Article
The article discusses how to create and resolve discomfort for a thrilling and memorable experience. Uncomfortable interaction causes a degree of suffering to the user, mentally through suspense, fear, and anxiety or even physically through movement, exertion, and pain. The increasing use of computers in games, rides, performances, installations, and other cultural experiences is shifting the focus of user-experience design from the traditional usability goals of learnability, performance, and minimizing errors to new ones, like fostering emotional and aesthetic engagement. This switch inspires unconventional approaches that turn traditional interaction design on its head, as in, say, celebrating the role of ambiguity rather than clarity and transforming system limitations into opportunities.
Conference Paper
We explore the usefulness of time analytics based on activity log data created by a mixture of automatic activity tracking on a PC and manual time tracking (stop-watch functionality) for time management. For two weeks, 7 study participants used such computer-supported time tracking and reviewed their time use daily. Our study reveals that the regular usage of such software indeed leads to insights with respect to time management: study participants consistently reported surprise about the extent of their worktime fragmentation. Additionally, our study indicates that besides mere data analytics, users require guidance ("actionable analytics") to actually change time management behaviour.
Article
Human multitasking is often the result of self-initiated interruptions in the performance of an ongoing task. These self-interruptions occur in the absence of external triggers such as electronic alerts or email notifications. Compared to externally induced interruptions, self-interruptions have not received enough research attention. To address this gap, this paper develops a typology of self-interruptions based on the integration of Flow Theory and Self-regulation Theory. In this new typology, the two major categories stem from positive and negative feelings of task progress and prospects of goal attainment. The proposed classification is validated in an experimental multitasking environment with pre-defined tasks. Empirical findings indicate that negative feelings trigger more self-interruptions than positive feelings. In general, more self-interruptions result in lower accuracy in all tasks. The results suggest that negative internal triggers of self-interruptions unleash a downward spiral that may degrade performance.
Chapter
This chapter deals with the ethics of persuasive technology. Ethical issues are especially prominent when computer technology uses novelty as a distraction to increase persuasion. When dealing with a novel experience, people not only lack expertise but they are distracted by the experience, which impedes their ability to focus on the content presented. Being in a novel situation can make people more vulnerable because they are distracted by the newness or complexity of the interaction. When it comes to persuasion, computers also benefit from their traditional reputation of being intelligent and fair, making them seem credible sources of information and advice. Another advantage of computers is persistence. Unlike human persuaders, computers don't get tired; they can implement their persuasive strategies over and over.
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Whether you?re a Mac or Windows user, there are tricks here for you in this helpful resource. You?ll feast on this buffet of new shortcuts to make technology your ally instead of your adversary, so you can spend more time getting things done and less time fiddling with your computer. You?ll learn valuable ways to upgrade your life so that you can work?and live?more efficiently, such as: empty your e-mail inbox, search the Web in three keystrokes, securely save Web site passwords, automatically back up your files, and many more.
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Can computers change what you think and do? Can they motivate you to stop smoking, persuade you to buy insurance, or convince you to join the Army? "Yes, they can," says Dr. B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Fogg has coined the phrase "Captology"(an acronym for computers as persuasive technologies) to capture the domain of research, design, and applications of persuasive computers.In this thought-provoking book, based on nine years of research in captology, Dr. Fogg reveals how Web sites, software applications, and mobile devices can be used to change peoples attitudes and behavior. Technology designers, marketers, researchers, consumers-anyone who wants to leverage or simply understand the persuasive power of interactive technology-will appreciate the compelling insights and illuminating examples found inside. Persuasive technology can be controversial-and it should be. Who will wield this power of digital influence? And to what end? Now is the time to survey the issues and explore the principles of persuasive technology, and B.J. Fogg has written this book to be your guide.
Article
Much attention has been devoted to how technological advancements have created a brave new workplace, revolutionzing the ways in which work is being carried out, and how employees can improve their productivity and efficiency. However, the advent of technology has also opened up new avenues and opportunities for individuals to misbehave. This study focused on cyberloafing—the act of employees using their companies' internet access for personal purposes during work hours. Cyberloafing, thus, represents a form of production deviance. Using the theoretical frameworks offered by social exchange, organizational justice and neutralization, we examined the often-neglected dark side of the internet and the role that neutralization techniques play in facilitating this misbehavior at the workplace. Specifically, we developed a model which suggested that when individuals perceived their organizations to be distributively, procedurally and interactionally unjust, they were likely to invoke the metaphor of the ledger as a neutralization technique to legitimize their subsequent engagement in the act of cyberloafing. Data were collected with the use of an electronic questionnaire and focus group interviews from 188 working adults with access to the internet at the workplace. Results of structural equation modelling provided empirical support for all of our hypotheses. Implications of our findings for organizational internet policies are discussed. Copyright
Article
Cyberloafing is the personal use of email and the Internet while at work. The purpose of this study is to identify the different forms of cyberloafing and their antecedents. We propose that cyberloafing has two primary forms: minor cyberloafing (e.g., sending and receiving personal email at work) and serious cyberloafing (e.g., online gambling, surfing adult oriented web sites). Additionally, we hypothesize that employees’ perceptions of coworker and supervisor norms supporting cyberloafing are related to minor cyberloafing but not serious cyberloafing. We also hypothesize that external locus of control (i.e., a belief that chance and powerful others determines one’s outcomes), as an antecedent of other counterproductive work behaviors, will be related to both minor and serious cyberloafing. Two hundred and twenty two employed graduate business students were surveyed. Two forms of cyberloafing were identified: one composed of minor cyberloafing behaviors and one composed of the more serious cyberloafing behaviors. As predicted, employees’ perceptions of their coworkers’ and supervisor’s norms were positively related to minor cyberloafing, but not related to serious cyberloafing. Also as predicted, belief in chance was positively related to both minor and serious cyberloafing. A belief in powerful others was not related to minor or serious cyberloafing. Implications for policy development to regulate cyberloafing in organizations are discussed.
Conference Paper
The typical information worker is interrupted every 12 minutes, and half of the time they are interrupting themselves. However, most of the research on interruption in the area of human-computer interaction has focused on understanding and managing interruptions from external sources. Internal interruptions -- user-initiated switches away from a task prior to its completion -- are not well understood. In this paper we describe a qualitative study of self-interruption on the computer. Using a grounded theory approach, we identify seven categories of self-interruptions in computer-related activities. These categories are derived from direct observations of users, and describe the motivation, potential consequences, and benefits associated with each type of self-interruption observed. Our research extends the understanding of the self-interruption phenomenon, and informs the design of systems to support discretionary task interleaving on the computer.
Conference Paper
The potential for sensor-enabled mobile devices to proactively present information when and where users need it ranks among the greatest promises of ubiquitous computing. Unfortunately, mobile phones, PDAs, and other computing devices that compete for the user's attention can contribute to interruption irritability and feelings of information overload. Designers of mobile computing interfaces, therefore, require strategies for minimizing the perceived interruption burden of proactively delivered messages. In this work, a context-aware mobile computing device was developed that automatically detects postural and ambulatory activity transitions in real time using wireless accelerometers. This device was used to experimentally measure the receptivity to interruptions delivered at activity transitions relative to those delivered at random times. Messages delivered at activity transitions were found to be better received, thereby suggesting a viable strategy for context-aware message delivery in sensor-enabled mobile computing devices.
Article
Experts state that laptop users need to understand the need of multitasking on their computer, to control their activities for the benefit of a meeting. It is observed that users involve in multitasking on their laptops during the meeting for taking notes in the electronic format, follow presentation slides, or search related information on the Internet. The related information helps them in better acquisition and processing of information. These are compliant uses, as they are related to the meeting's objectives. It is also observed that some users use their laptops, to access email, play computer games, or review unrelated documents. These are distracting uses, as they are unrelated with the objectives of the meetings. Researchers collected objective data from computer monitoring logs of laptops of a number of users, to help them in understanding the significance of multitasking and prepare strategies for performing better multitasking on their laptops during meetings.