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EMAC 2019 Annual Conference

Digital Calibration: The Effect of Mobile Phone Tracking on User Behaviour

Published: May 28, 2019


Laura Zimmermann, IE University School of Human Sciences and Technology


smartphones; tracking; motivation


In fall 2018 Apple launched Screen Time as a new feature of iOS12 to help users understand how much time they are spending on their smartphones, and to reduce their screen time if wanted. Android phones followed immediately with a ‘Digital Wellbeing’ feature. Thus far it is not clear whether these novel applications have indeed any impact on mobile phone habits. This research study investigates empirically, using longitudinal data whether tracking mobile phone usage with apps 1) improves calibration of judgments of individual mobile phone usage and 2) reduces overall mobile phone screen time. As a simple alternative to usage tracking, we are further testing whether turning your mobile phone to grayscale mode (black and white) has a comparable effect on mobile phone usage. Results of the longitudinal field study and implications for product design and consumer wellbeing will be discussed.