Smartphone Disengagement

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Project Infobox Question-icon.png
Self researcher(s) User:Esenabre
Related tools One Button Tracker
Related topics Activity tracking, Time tracking, Digital addiction

Builds on project(s)
Has inspired Projects (1)

Smartphone disengagement is a self-research project for which – moved by the question "Is it possible to have a different relationship with my smartphone?" – I switched my smartphone for a feature phone during a month (May 2021), and tracked my reactions to that change.

What did you do? How did you do it? What did you learn?[edit | edit source]

What did you do?[edit | edit source]

I recorded negative, positive and reflective reactions as they happened using a Puck one button (recording timestamps and duration as "intensity") and writing descriptive annotations about the most relevant events on a paper notebook, regarding how I reacted or felt not having the smartphone (or in the cases that I had to finally use it).

How did you do it?[edit | edit source]

  1. pressing the one button tracker in my pocket at any relevant sign regarding the change of phone
  2. writing descriptive annotations on spot using a small paper notebook
  3. downloading data from the Puck using the online tool one-button tracker
  4. merging data from the Puck and my notes on a spreadsheet, and cleaning up non-relevant fields or false positives
  5. adding an additional set of categories retrospectively (after reading more about similar experiments, autoethnographies and related studies)
  6. visualizing results on a plot as a timeline with all events according to categories and intensity, using a Jupyter notebook

The notebook for the analysis is available

What did you learn?[edit | edit source]

Reactions of habit / dependence / addiction like nomophobia or FOMO (“Response to habit” category) were very intense during the first 7-10 days, but they decreased afterwards, while some positive aspects and reflections emerged in parallel. In a way, this seems very similar to what people with addictive behaviors experience (for example when quitting smoking).

Main negative perceptions, according to my notes and the recorded intensity of events, had to do with technical / practical / usability inconveniences (“UX practicalities” category), from non-optimal communication and information retrieval problems to finally having to reach the smartphone in specific situations.

"Positive" events of the intervention had to do with episodes of mindfulness and being aware of living the moment, better appreciating what surrounded me (“Self-reinforcing / awareness” category). From “mental photos” of this or that situation to realizing the lack of distractions during various activities, away from the recurring distraction of the smartphone screen.

The reflections I wrote down in relation to other events had to do with my inexperience and insecurity in the way I was trying to self-experiment (that is, at a “meta” level), but also in relation to other people (“Social context” category). Especially about how they could perceive me when knowing about my choice of phone.

Approaches you tried that did not work[edit | edit source]