1. Study suggests Pokémon Go may actually promote healthier lifestyle

    July 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Kent State University press release:

    Today marks the one year anniversary of Pokémon GO’s worldwide release that sent crowds hiking through parks, meandering into streets and walking for miles in search of Pokémon, those cute little digital characters that appear in real locations on your smartphone.

    Capturing the little monsters isn’t just fun for the players, it might be good for their health. Too often we sit at a desk all day, spend countless hours in the car, and with a smartphone glued to our hands it is too easy to spend our free time watching videos, playing games and browsing the internet. Such sedentary behaviors cause us to sit more and exercise less.

    However, Kent State University researchers found that playing a popular physically-interactive, smartphone based game, like Pokémon GO, may actually promote exercise.

    Jacob Barkley, Ph.D., Andrew Lepp, Ph.D., and Ellen Glickman, Ph.D., from Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services assessed the ability of the popular, physically-interactive, smartphone based video game Pokémon GO to increase walking and decrease sedentary behavior, like sitting. Over 350 college students reported their physical activity and sedentary behavior the week before they downloaded Pokémon GO, the week immediately after downloading the game, and again several weeks later.

    Results show that, relative to the week before downloading Pokémon GO, students doubled their daily walking behavior (102 percent increase) and reduced sedentary behavior by 25 percent during the first week after downloading. When comparing behavior several weeks after downloading Pokémon GO, to the week before downloading, walking and sedentary behavior was still 68 percent greater and 18 percent lower, respectively, even though frequency of game play decreased by 58 percent.

    “While the largest increases in walking and decreases in sitting occurred during the first week after downloading, when the game was new to the user, those positive effects largely persisted weeks later,” Barkley said. “It is possible that games like Pokémon GO may help people initiate a positive health behavior change, such as more daily walking and less sitting.”

    The researchers suggest that while many smartphone functions may promote sedentary activity, they are hopeful that playing physically-interactive, smartphone based video games like Pokémon GO may help promote walking and reduce sitting in college students.

    The study is published in the Games for Health Journal.


  2. Study suggests presence of smartphone reduces cognitive capacity

    July 8, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) press release:

    Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off. That’s the takeaway finding from a new study from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

    McCombs Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby even when they’re not using them.

    In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants’ available cognitive capacity — that is, the brain’s ability to hold and process data at any given time. Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent.

    The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.

    The findings suggest that the mere presence of one’s smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they’re giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand. “We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases,” Ward said. “Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process — the process of requiring yourself to not think about something — uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It’s a brain drain.”

    In another experiment, researchers looked at how a person’s self-reported smartphone dependence — or how strongly a person feels he or she needs to have a smartphone in order to get through a typical day — affected cognitive capacity. Participants performed the same series of computer-based tests as the first group and were randomly assigned to keep their smartphones either in sight on the desk face up, in a pocket or bag, or in another room. In this experiment, some participants were also instructed to turn off their phones.

    The researchers found that participants who were the most dependent on their smartphones performed worse compared with their less-dependent peers, but only when they kept their smartphones on the desk or in their pocket or bag.

    Ward and his colleagues also found that it didn’t matter whether a person’s smartphone was turned on or off, or whether it was lying face up or face down on a desk. Having a smartphone within sight or within easy reach reduces a person’s ability to focus and perform tasks because part of their brain is actively working to not pick up or use the phone.

    “It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones,” said Ward. “The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.”


  3. Study suggests “phone snubbing” leads to similar behaviour

    June 27, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Baylor University press release:

    People who are phone snubbed — or “phubbed” — by others are, themselves, often turning to their smartphones and social media to find acceptance, according to new research from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

    Building on their earlier study that phubbing can damage relationships and lead to depression, researchers Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, and James A. Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing, have found that the circle nearly completes itself as the offended parties frequently jump online to find affirmation in the likes and shares and positive comments of social media.

    Their study, “Phubbed and Alone: Phone Snubbing, Social Exclusion, and Attachment to Social Media,” is published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. The research investigates the relationship between phubbing, social media attachment, depression, anxiety and stress.

    “When an individual is phubbed, he/she feels socially excluded which leads to an increased need for attention. Instead of turning to face-to-face interaction to restore a sense of inclusion, study participants turned to social media to regain a sense of belonging,” said David, lead author of the study. “Being phubbed was also found to undermine an individual’s psychological well-being. Phubbed individuals reported higher levels of stress and depression.”

    “We’re looking online for what we’re not getting offline,” Roberts said. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

    As part of their research, David and Roberts surveyed more than 330 people across two studies. They found:

    • Nearly half of those who were phubbed reported spending more than 1.5 hours on their phone each day. In addition, one-quarter of those phubbed reported spending more than 90 minutes per day on social media sites.
    • More than one-third of phubbed individuals indicated that they turn to social media to interact with new people.
    • More than half of individuals who said they were phubbed indicated that social media enhances their life and makes their life better overall. The majority of these individuals reported that people’s comments on their social media posts makes them feel affirmed and more accepted.

    “Although the stated purpose of technology like smartphones is to help us connect with others, in this particular instance, it does not,” David said. “Ironically, the very technology that was designed to bring humans closer together, has isolated us from these very same people.”

    Roberts, who wrote the book “Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?” said this current research and the trends it identifies are troubling.

    “Our inability to separate from technology is devastating to our well-being,” he said. “Even if it’s not an addiction, it’s a deeply engrained habit.”

    To counter the negative effects of smartphone use, the researchers advise consumers to establish “smartphone-free” zones and times; establish social contracts (and penalties) regarding phone use with friends, family and coworkers; and downloading apps that track, monitor and control smartphone use.

    “All this research into phubbing would be for naught, or only an interesting story, if not for the revelation that this type of behavior can drive others’ use of social media in an attempt to regain inclusion,” the researchers wrote. “Additionally, such behavior can also impact the well-being of affected individuals.”


  4. How do toddlers learn best from touchscreens?

    May 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Frontiers press release:

    Educational apps for kids can be valuable learning tools, but there’s still a lot left to understand about how to best design them, shows a report in Frontiers in Psychology.

    “Our experiments are a reminder that just because touchscreens allow for physical interaction, it doesn’t mean that it’s always beneficial,” says Dr. Colleen Russo-Johnson, lead author of the study and who completed this work as a graduate student at Vanderbilt University.

    Smartphones and tablets have become so pervasive that, even in lower-income households, 90% of American children have used a touchscreen by the age of 2. Eighty percent of educational apps in the iTunes store are designed for children — especially toddlers and preschoolers. But recent research has shown that sometimes all those chimes and animations hinder learning, prompting the question, how well do we understand what it takes to make a truly beneficial learning app?

    “Children interact with touch screens and the embedded media content in vastly different ways and this impacts their ability to learn from the content,” says Russo-Johnson. “Our experiment focused on how children interacted with touchscreen devices — on a more basic level — by stripping away fancy design features that vary from app to app and that are not always beneficial.”

    Using a custom-made, streamlined learning app, Russo-Johnson and her colleagues showed that children as young as 2 could use the app to learn new words such as the fictional names of a variety of newly-introduced toys (designed specifically for the study). Unsurprisingly, slightly older children (age 4 to 5) were able to learn more than the younger ones (age 2 to 3) and they were also able to follow directions better — such as only tapping when instructed to do so.

    The researchers went on to show that the excessive tapping by younger children seemed to go hand-in-hand with lower scores of a trait called self-regulation. As in this study, self-regulation is commonly measured by seeing how long children can keep themselves from eating a cracker that is placed in front of them — after they’ve been told to wait until they hear a signal that it’s ok to eat the cracker.

    To complement this first study (which included 77 children), Russo-Johnson and her colleagues designed a second app to see which interactions — tapping, dragging, or simply watching — were better for learning new words.

    Somewhat surprisingly, across this next group of 170 2- to 4-year olds, no single type of interaction proved to consistently be the best. But there were differences depending on age, gender, and the extent of prior exposure to touchscreens at home. Boys appeared to benefit more from watching, whereas dragging seemed best for girls and children with the most touchscreen experience.

    These results complement the growing body of research on identifying effective interactive features, as well as providing insight into how apps might be tailored to fit the learning needs of different children.

    “I hope that this research will inform academics and app developers alike,” says Russo-Johnson. “Educational app developers should be mindful of utilizing interactivity in meaningful ways that don’t distract from the intended educational benefits, and, when possible, allow for customization so parents and educators can determine the best settings for their children.”


  5. Handheld screen time linked with speech delays in young children

    May 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Academy of Pediatrics press release:

    As the number of smart phones, tablets, electronic games and other handheld screens in U.S. homes continues to grow, some children begin using these devices before beginning to talk. New research being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests these children may be at higher risk for speech delays.

    Researchers will present the abstract, “Is handheld screen time use associated with language delay in infants?” on Saturday, May 6 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco. The study included 894 children between ages 6 months and 2 years participating in TARGet Kids!, a practice-based research network in Toronto between 2011 and 2015.

    By their 18-month check-ups, 20 percent of the children had daily average handheld device use of 28 minutes, according to their parents. Based on a screening tool for language delay, researchers found that the more handheld screen time a child’s parent reported, the more likely the child was to have delays in expressive speech. For each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, researchers found a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay. There was no apparent link between handheld device screen time and other communications delays, such as social interactions, body language or gestures.

    “Handheld devices are everywhere these days,” said Dr. Catherine Birken, MD, MSc, FRCPC, the study’s principal investigator and a staff pediatrician and scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). “While new pediatric guidelines suggest limiting screen time for babies and toddlers, we believe that the use of smartphones and tablets with young children has become quite common. This is the first study to report an association between handheld screen time and increased risk of expressive language delay.”

    Dr. Birken said the results support a recent policy recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics to discourage any type of screen media in children younger than 18 months. More research is needed, she said, to understand the type and contents of screen activities infants are engaging in to further explore mechanisms behind the apparent link between handheld screen time and speech delay, such as time spent together with parents on handheld devices, and to understand the impact on in-depth and longer-term communication outcomes in early childhood.


  6. Study suggests hands-free technology may still affect driver attention

    April 20, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society press release:

    Drivers commonly perform secondary tasks while behind the wheel to navigate or communicate with others, which has led to a significant increase in the number of injuries and fatalities attributed to distracted driving. Advances in wearable technology, particularly devices such as Google Glass, which feature voice control and head-up display (HUD) functionalities, raise questions about how these devices might impact driver attention when used in vehicles. New human factors/ergonomics research examines how these interface characteristics can have a deleterious effect on safety.

    In their Human Factors article, “Driving While Interacting With Google Glass: Investigating the Combined Effect of Head-Up Display and Hands-Free Input on Driving Safety and Multitask Performance,” authors Kathryn Tippey, Elayaraj Sivaraj, and Thomas Ferris observed the performance of 24 participants in a driving simulator. The participants engaged in four texting-while-driving tasks: baseline (driving only), and driving plus reading and responding to text messages via (a) a smartphone keyboard, (b) a smartphone voice-to text system, and (c) Google Glass’s voice-to-text system using HUD.

    The authors found that driving performance degraded regardless of secondary texting task type, but manual entry led to slower reaction times and significantly more eyes-off-road glances than voice-to-text input using both smartphones and Google Glass. Glass’ HUD function required only a change in eye direction to read and respond to text messages, rather than the more disruptive change in head and body posture associated with smartphones. Participants also reported that Glass was easier to use and interfered less with driving than did the other devices tested.

    Tippey, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says, “Our evidence suggests that adding voice input and using an HUD can make secondary tasks like texting while driving less unsafe. However, regardless of entry or display method, it is not safe to perform these types of secondary task while driving in environments where the workload from driving is already heavy.”


  7. Study examines impact of smartphones on sleep

    June 17, 2013 by Ashley

    From the Mayo Clinic press release via ScienceDaily:

    cellphone textingSmartphones and tablets can make for sleep-disrupting bedfellows. One cause is believed to be the bright light-emitting diodes that allow the use of mobile devices in dimly lit rooms; the light exposure can interfere with melatonin, a hormone that helps control the natural sleep-wake cycle. But there may be a way to check your mobile device in bed and still get a good night’s sleep.

    A Mayo Clinic study suggests dimming the smartphone or tablet brightness settings and holding the device at least 14 inches from your face while using it will reduce its potential to interfere with melatonin and impede sleep.

    The research was among Mayo Clinic studies being presented at SLEEP 2013, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting in Baltimore.

    “In the old days people would go to bed and read a book. Well, much more commonly people go to bed and they have their tablet on which they read a book or they read a newspaper or they’re looking at material. The problem is it’s a lit device, and how problematic is the light source from the mobile device?” says co-author Lois Krahn, M.D., a psychiatrist and sleep expert at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    “There’s a lot of concern about using mobile devices and that prompted me to wonder, are they always a negative factor for sleep?” Dr. Krahn says. “We found that only at the highest setting was the light over a conservative threshold that might affect melatonin levels. If it’s at the mid setting or at a low setting it’s bright enough to use.”

    In the study, researchers experimented with two tablets and a smartphone in a dark room, using a meter on its most sensitive setting to measure the light the devices emitted at various settings when held various distances from a person’s face. They discovered that when brightness settings were lowered and the devices were held just over a foot from a user’s face, it reduced the risk that the light would be bright enough to suppress melatonin secretion and disrupt sleep.

    Other Mayo research presented at the conference includes the finding that some sleep apnea patients may not need annual follow-up visits. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea being treated with positive airway pressure are less likely to need a yearly check-up.

    The researchers suggest developing a screening tool to assess which of these patients need annual follow-up visits.

    Limiting annual visits to the obstructive sleep apnea patients who truly need them will reduce resource use and improve quality of care and patient satisfaction, says co-author Kannan Ramar, MBBS., M.D., a pulmonary and critical care physician with the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minn.


  8. Study examines use of Instagram to share experiences

    April 25, 2013 by Ashley

    From the University of Gothenburg press release via EurekAlert!:

    Computer UserThe photo-sharing application Instagram is used by millions of people around the world daily. In the media, the social media phenomenon is sometimes dismissed as trivial pastime. However, according to a fresh study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, a lot of effort often goes into a picture before it is shared.

    In study, which was conducted by three researchers from the University of Gothenburg, investigated how visitors at the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History used their cellphones during a visit. Through ethnographic field studies the researchers examined how visitors documented and shared their experiences.

    The study in itself is one of a kind. Since Instagram is a relatively new service, the body of research with in the area is still thin. Furthermore, the combination of Instragram and museums was previously unexplored.

    “There are studies that have looked at how museum visitors use technology developed by the museums themselves, such as for example touchscreens or mobile applications. But we are among the first to investigate how visitors use their own mobile technology in the museum environment,” says Post-Doc Thomas Hillman, one of the three researchers behind the study.

    When the researchers analyzed the data they had collected, they were able to determine that visitors often upload many pictures from the museum during their visit, and that many of these pictures are carefully planned and edited.

    There is a conception that Instagram is used to post mostly of self-portraits and pictures of food, which can be perceived as shallow, but our research shows that there is a lot effort behind many of the pictures,” says PhD Student Beata Jungselius.

    The study also indicates that smart phones have changed the way we share our experiences.

    We used to document places and events by taking pictures with cameras, which we would then print and share with our closest friends. Then cellphone with cameras with introduced, and as these have evolved, along with the breakthrough of Facebook and Instagram, our way of sharing our experiences has changed,” says Associate Professor Alexandra Weilenmann.

     


  9. Swedish study suggests smartphones have increased use of social media and computer games

    June 28, 2012 by Sue

    From the University of Gothenburg press release via Physorg:

    Over 60 per cent of Swedish young people today have a smartphone, and in addition to telephoning and messaging, they use them to communicate via social media and e-mail, and to play games.

    Each year, Nordicom at Gothenburg University carries out a nationally representative survey of media use among the Swedish people. Media Barometer 2011 (Mediebarometern 2011) presents the results of the most recent survey.

    Smartphones have contributed to an already notable increase in the use of computer games, particularly among young people,” says Professor Ulla Carlsson. “Online game-playing has more than doubled during the past year alone. Sixty per cent of 9- to 14-year-olds play one or more computer or video games the average day – action and adventure themes predominate.”

    Smartphones are also used to keep up on the news. As a consequence of more differentiated media use, news listening and watching via traditional media have shown a slight decline in recent years, particularly among young people. That decline appears to have leveled off now. Most owners of smartphones choose to follow the news in web editions of daily newspapers.

    Use of social media is considerably more passive than active

    Nearly 90 per cent of Swedish young people, aged 15 to 24, use one or more social media the average day, which is a considerably greater share than those who watch television (75 %). This pattern is quite different from media behavior in other age groups, where television viewing is much more common.

    Young people also spend much more time on internet than other age groups. Forty-three per cent report spending more than three hours on the web the average day, and 23 per cent spend more than five hours. The most common activity is visiting and communicating in social networks like Facebook (89 %), followed by listening to music (74 %), watching video clips (65 %) and listening to and/or reading blogs (34 %). Most internet use is passive rather than active; few young people post their own videos (4 %) or write their own blogs (9 %). Considerably more, however, take part in social networks like Facebook (68 %).

    Stability as well as change in use of traditional media

    Use of social media is more extensive and is increasing more rapidly than use of traditional media on the web, although we do note a slight upward trend in the latter from year to year. Younger adults, 25 to 44 years, are the most frequent users of internet. Nearly 50 per cent in this group partake of traditional media via the web. Internet also plays a key role in sustaining the audience reach of non-subscribed tabloids; every second tabloid reader reads the paper on the web.

    Otherwise, conventional television viewing continues to dominate, and radio listening continues its downward trend, whereas reading of periodicals and books remains relatively stable.

    Today there are many ways of watching television, in terms of both when we view and how we access the medium, with a range of hardware stretching from conventional television sets to tablet computers and smartphones. Six per cent of the population make use of conventional channels’ archive on-demand function the average day; per week the figure is 21 per cent. The corresponding figures among 15- to 24-year-olds are 10 per cent the average day, and 30 per cent the average week. About 10 per cent of younger boys use their cell phones to watch television or video clips the average day.

    Cineastic pensioners

    Swedes in the eldest age group, 65-79 years, distinguish themselves by a rise in cinema-going. No similar rise is noted in other age groups. Seventeen per cent of the group visit a cinema once or more the average month; in 1999 the figure was 3 per cent.


  10. Study suggests more people staying connected on vacation

    June 11, 2012 by Sue

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    Scanning smartphones, tablets and laptops is as much a part of vacations as slathering on sunscreen, according to a Michigan State University study.

    The results, which will appear in the forthcoming issue of Annals of Tourism Research, show that easy online access and ubiquitous personal devices have made the digital divide disappear, even for folks on holiday.

    “Not that long ago, travelers would need to find a payphone or send postcards to brag about their vacations. Now they just log on and send photos and text,” said Christine Vogt, MSU professor of community agriculture, recreation and resource studies, who co-authored the study with Kelly MacKay of Ryerson University (Canada). “Our results show clearly how the changing nature of IT behavior in everyday life is spilling over into our vacations.”

    The study showed that people using smart phones have tripled. The study also revealed that wireless use was higher on vacation (40 percent) than at home (25 percent). Also telling, were figures that show that people used the Web more to plan vacations (80 percent) than for work (70 percent).

    “Travelers are using their laptops and phones more often, and not just to plan vacations,” Vogt said. “Since Wi-Fi is available at most destinations, tourists are checking local weather forecasts, transportation schedules, restaurant recommendations, fishing reports, safe bicycling routes and much more.”

    Pulling out computers, iPads and smartphones at home and work is addictive. It looks like the habit doesn’t take a vacation, either, she added. Future research will give the tourism industry insight on the best ways to serve vacationers’ online needs.

    “We hope to conduct more research across the various stages of vacations,” Vogt said. “This will help vacation service providers better understand what information travelers are looking for during trip planning and how it differs from the details they’re searching for after arrival.”

    The study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Vogt’s research is supported in part by MSU AgBioResearch.