Achieving Digital Wellbeing Through Digital Self-control Tools: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Alberto Monge Roffarello, Luigi De Russis



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

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Cite This Paper

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.


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