Public media and researchers in different areas have recently focused on perhaps unexpected problems that derive from an excessive and frequent use of technology, giving rise to a new kind of psychological “digital” wellbeing. Such a novel and pressing topic has fostered, both in the academia and in the industry, the emergence of a variety of digital self-control tools allowing users to self-regulate their technology use through interventions like timers and lock-out mechanisms. While these emerging technologies for behavior change hold great promise to support people’s digital wellbeing, we still have a limited understanding of their real effectiveness, as well as of how to best design and evaluate them. Aiming to guide future research in this important domain, this article presents a systematic review and a meta-analysis of current work on tools for digital self-control. We surface motivations, strategies, design choices, and challenges that characterize the design, development, and evaluation of digital self-control tools. Furthermore, we estimate their overall effect size on reducing (unwanted) technology use through a meta-analysis. By discussing our findings, we provide insights on how to (i) overcome a limited perspective that exclusively focuses on technology overuse and self-monitoring tools, (ii) evaluate digital self-control tools through long-term studies and standardized measures, and (iii) bring ethics in the digital wellbeing discourse and deal with the business model of contemporary tech companies.
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Alberto Monge Roffarello and Luigi De Russis. 2023. Achieving Digital Wellbeing Through Digital Self-control Tools: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 30, 4, Article 53 (August 2023), 66 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3571810
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