Screens of Good

By Mikayla Hounchell, Ellora Jaggi, Ryane Johnson & Grace Anaple

What does your initial research consist of?

Build an understanding of the problem

It often seems like technology rules our world. Earlier and earlier in age, students are being given devices to assist their school experience, which are often used as toys and entertainment in addition to learning tools. College students are required to own laptops and often additional devices as well, and the work force is moving toward technology solutions at an incredible rate. In addition to utilizing technology to better the world, it is being used for communication and entertainment as well, maybe at an even higher rate.

Google search, read books/blogs/articles, listen to podcasts

Self analysis

Each summer, my karate team deletes all social media apps from our phones, logging out for about two months in preparation for the national championships. The team consists of about 40 athletes, the majority of whom are somewhere between 12 to 18 years old. My coach created this rule as a way to encourage self-awareness and productivity. As the years go by, he’s noticed his students have become increasingly reliant on their devices and believes that there are other ways to interact within the team. Giving up social media was a shock to a lot of my teammates — especially the younger ones who have grown up with devices (sometimes it feels like they’re in a completely different generation than me). However, this isn’t to say it was an easy adjustment for me; I’m also incredibly attached to my phone! Every summer I’ve done this “social media cleanse,” I initially notice myself unlocking my phone and looking for those apps (instagram, snapchat, facebook). Sometimes, these apps are replaced with other time-sucking apps: games, news, blogs, etc. This is clearly a sign of an addiction, and when I notice this, I often delete those “band aid” apps as well in an effort to detach myself from the world of media.

User Research:

Have you consider talking to experts on the problem? (Phycologist? Zen Buddhist?)

Psychologists could help

Which human factor concerns are involved for study?

Distraction, awareness, stress relief

What methods do you employ? Do you interview(conversations)? Conduct a survey? Conduct observation and/or field studies? Video recording? Empathic methods? Site/field visits and measurements?

Interview housemates, observe the classroom and halls, send a survey

Do you create personas? What were the needs and behaviors?

Persona 1: 17 year old female, always has her phone with her,

Needs: stay entertained, not feel lonely

Behaviors: Doesn’t go anywhere without her phone, when she is some place by herself she pulls out her phone to look like she’s doing something even if she isn’t actually

Persona 2: 23 year old male, uses iphone and apple watch on a regular basis

Needs: to keep up with emails from work, stay in contact with his fiancee

Behaviors: checks apple watch frequently because it is easily accessible but doesn’t seem as rude to look at during a conversation

Who would be the primary user?

Teens and young adults

What are their learning styles?

Visual and physical, don’t to take a lot of time and effort to read a lot of things

Would you consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

Physical needs are what’s most important, not being on your phone

Some people might think they can feel loved or get esteemed through the use of social media or contacting people through their phone

What are your revised standards of success after doing user research?

Research Ideas:

Go to rohs/86/any coffee shop, observe people using screens. What are they using them for? Is checking their phone necessary?

Send out a survey. Incorporate the Iphone’s ability to track how much time you spend on apps for up to 7 days. (settings>battery>battery usage>select the clock icon on the far right)

Actual Research:


  1. What are the top 3 apps on your battery usage in the last 24 hours and how much time did you spend on them?
  2. What do you use your phone for?
  3. How do you think your phone usage compares to other people your age?
  4. What would make you use your phone less?

Interview 1: Grant Alger, 19 year old sophomore at James Madison University

  1. messages (1.6hrs), safari(36min), Twitter(33min)
  2. To text, call, social media, watch videos on youtube, for devotionals, lookup things on the internet, listen to music (big one), fantasy football, checking sports scores, weather
  3. Probably pretty similar
  4. If I lived closer to you (I’m his girlfriend and we’re in a long distance relationship)

Interview 2: Colleen Oneil, 24 year old 2nd year med student at University of Cincinnati

  1. Calling (37min), messages(28min), home/lock screen(22min)
  2. Typical phone purposes, audiobooks, email a lot, directions, calendar, calculator, apps for school, reading/checking Bible app, social media, banking, browsing the internet, sometimes music
  3. “I think I use it more, but I might just be more self conscious of that, I spend more time than i want to on social media, I probably use my phone just as much or more than people my age for utility stuff, I have a lot of practical apps, convenience things-faster to do on my phone while walking somewhere than on my computer in class or doing schoolwork, I feel like I use social media more even though it’s probably less. I think its a problem so I’m probably hyper aware of it”
  4. Conviction to be more present, growing in self control, wasn’t as able to do as many things on it, there’s so many things you can do so easily on your phone

Interview 3: Kempter Anaple, 12 year old 6th grader at Sycamore (only has iPod)

  1. Doesn’t show on ipod
  2. Games, texting, Read scripture app, listen to music
  3. “Most people have phones but they are on their’s more than me”
  4. “Neighbors being around to play”


  1. How much time do you spend on your phone on a daily basis?


1–2 hrs



2. What mobile devices do you use on a daily basis (check all that apply)?



Apple watch


3. What is your main purpose for using the mobile devices?




Avoid awkward situations

4. What is your most used feature on your phone or mobile device?



Social media

Internet browsing


5. When do you use your phone (check all that apply)?

First thing when I wake up

In class

Throughout the day

Last thing I do before I go to bed

6. Do you wish you used your phone less?

Yes, but I don’t think that will happen

Yes, I’m trying to work on it

No, I don’t think I’m on my phone too much

Haven’t thought about it before

Survey results:

-sent to a few GroupMe’s: two with college students and young adults and one of high school students

-got 97 responses

-top answers (full report in PDF):

More than 3 hours



Social media

Throughout the day

Yes, trying to work on it


I ride my bike to class and notice so many people on their phones while they are walking. I’ll see them walk on the right so I’ll ride my bike towards the left, but then they start walking towards the left without realizing it because they are looking down at their phones, which forces me to quickly swerve back to the right so I can avoid hitting them. I notice that wherever I am on campus, people are always looking down at their phones.

I have also noticed that wherever I go, coffee shops, restaurants, stores, people always have quick access to their phones and will use them frequently even when they are hanging out with their friends and eating dinner.

In class whenever we have breaks (or even when we aren’t on break) people pull out their phones instead of having conversations with people. I also notice that many times people check their phones out of habit, when it isn’t even necessary.

At Young Life club, a weekly event for high school kids, I notice that kids will stand in the back on their phone even though we are playing songs to sing along to, and there are games too. But they still feel the need to be connected to their phones.

My younger brother is 14 years old and he is always on his phone. My mom always tries to limit his phone usage, and will tell him he needs to turn it off at a certain time, but usually he’ll wait till he is told again. He also is very distracted when he is on his phone, and won’t hear what anyone says to him.


Going to Young Life camp as a high school camper — no one has phones for the week — don’t even miss it. Going to Young Life camp, volunteering on summer staff. There for 4 weeks working from sunrise to sunset. Got my phone maybe once a week for a couple hours. I was content without it. As soon as I get back home, I am a little better with my phone usage at first but then I fall back into my old ways because everyone around me is always on my phone.

I find that I am on my phone all the time. Part of the reason is because I am in a long distance relationship, so texting is a consistent way I can communicate with my boyfriend when our schedules don’t match up or we’re busy so we can’t call, also snapchat allows us to see each other’s faces when we don’t have time to facetime.

For Lent this last year, I gave up social media. I found that I was on my phone a lot less because I wasn’t just mindlessly scrolling through those apps. However, once I could use them again, I fell back into old habits.

Concept Development:

Dinner Table

Solution Type: Additive

Create a phone holder that can be assembled to hold as many or as few phones (Like a puzzle, but it forms a shape. While the phone is in the hold it should be connected to an app (we will create the app too). The app will be a game that you play with multiple people, (the app can also have a solitude mode). The goal of the app will help you break the ice and playful engage with the people around you.. It will have questions to learn more and find out how people are feeling and how their life is going. This will help you engage more with the people around you. 
While on the app, the app stops all notifications from coming to your phone to distract or tempt you.


Solution Type: Additive

Create a phone just for kids. This phone will come with different starter apps than the real phone. It will come with apps that does not promote the dependence on phone (We can create different starter apps). These starter apps should help promote kids to use technology as a way to help connect to the world, rather than be consumed in it.

App that reads into your calendar and locks your phone (emergency access only) when you are in a meeting, at a dinner date/party/family function.

Time Warning

Solution Type: Additive

Notification that pops up when you’ve been on your phone for certain amount of time.

Homework mode

Solution Type:

Setting you can put your phone on to lock all social media apps while you’re trying to get work done.

Usage Report

Solution Type:

Get notification with phone usage report at the end of the day (or halfway through). You can choose what information it gives you: how much time you sent on certain apps.

Goal Setting/Planning

Solution Type:

App that you can set goals in and choose when your phone would lock and for how long. If your goals are to only use social media for 45 minutes a day, it will lock you out after that. Put the time you’ll be doing homework into the app and it will lock your phone during those times.

Something that forces you to charge your phone across the room so that it’s not the first and last thing you do everyday

Focused Homework Help

Solution Type: Additive

An app that helps you monitor your phone uses through using your phone as an incentive. You would sign into the app and fill out a questionnaire about what you are doing/about to do, how long you estimate it will take you, how long you have to do it, what it is about and so on. It will break down how long you should work on the assignment before you are rewarded with a break (which will be a break on your phone to do whatever- we could also have it recommend things to do that wouldn’t disrupt your concentration too much, like listen to 10 minutes of relaxing songs). And example would be like you have a math assignment and you estimate it will take you 1–2 hours, you want to spend up to 3 hours on it and it is due tomorrow and you want to take at least one break. It would chart out for you to work on your assignment for 45 mins then take a break for 15 and work on the homework for the remainder of the assignment uninterrupted. During the time you would be working on your assignment, your phone would be locked and on DND mode. You would receive no longer receive distracting notifications.

Portable Charger

Solution Type: Removal

The charger would be portable and only work when you are not using your phone or when your phone is locked.


Solution Type: Deterrent

Raised sticker attaches to back of phone and vibrates and/or beeps when you browse certain apps for excessive periods of time.


Solution Type: Additive

Alerts you of how much you’re using your phone/select apps every hour.

Driving Chest

Solution Type: Removal

This solution is aimed to target and reduce the dangers and temptations of texting and driving. It is a box that you sit you phone that completely covers your phone so you are not tempted to pick it up. The box locks and does not unlock unless you car is off or has been at a complete stop for at least 2 minute and 30 second.

Choosing a concept and testing:

In concept development we tried to focus on ridding the distraction of phones in instances where time is very valuable; mostly in times where family is present and it is respectful to give the most attention you can to the people around you.

Our concepts were:

  1. A dinner table phone holder that phones get plugged into; plugging in activates an app. The app is a game you play with multiple people. The goal of the app is an ice breaker that allows you to engage with the people around you.
  2. Create a phone just for kids. It will come with apps that does not promote the dependence on phone. These starter apps should help promote kids to use technology as a way to help connect to the world, rather than be consumed in it.
  3. An app that allows you to use your phone (non emergent) for a certain amount of time per day; a notification pops up when you’ve used up all of your time for the day.
  4. Get a notification in regards to usage of the day (usage report).
  5. Sticker: Raised sticker attaches to back of phone and vibrates and/or beeps when you browse certain apps for excessive periods of time.
  6. Charger: The charger would be portable and only work when you are not using your phone or when your phone is locked.
  7. Smart Watch: Alerts you of how much you’re using your phone/select apps every hour.

Among all of these concepts we decided that a phone charger with the ability to use the energy of your phone being untouched to charge it. In other words: This charger only charges your phone when you aren’t using your apps or anything that is non-emergent. Having this charger will promote keeping your phone off while it is charging so that the phone can (a) charge faster (b) use that energy solely to charge the phone not drain it © keep you off of your phone for the allotted time that it is charging.

This charger will promote a consistent allotted slot of down time everyday, since electronics have to be charged multiple times per day. During this charging time, users are encouraged to partake in another activity other than using their phones during charging as it only works when you’re not using it.

Making our prototype:

We 3D Modeled our Charger in Fusion360 and then we 3D printed it in a fun color to elude quirkiness and make it more “trendy” or inviting.

Testing our Prototype:

We found observation and surveys to be the most beneficial/successful part of our testing process. Both of these methods were accessible to us during the duration of this project (mostly over the holiday breaks). Because of this timing we were exposed to family members from different parts of the country in different age groups. This allowed us to get more input when testing our prototype.


We watched while our users interacted with the product itself giving little to no feedback on how the charger worked.


We interviewed the users prior to observation asking basic questions about their phone usage.

User 1–

Age: 16

Gender: Female

Average time spent on phone/day: I would say about 4–5 hours.

Do you think you are addicted to your phone? Yes and sometimes i feel disconnected from the world around me.

How many times do you charge your phone daily? Anywhere from once to 4 times a day.

Do you use your phone while you charge it? Yes but not as much

In observing this user interacting with the charger we noticed that her time spent on her phone dramatically decreased while it was charged in and while she was in a social atmosphere she did not check it as often. She would still check her phone while it was charging but instantly realised that it would stop charging if she unlocked it so she quickly understood to leave it alone and interact with the people around her. As far as usability goes — she understood full well how to use the charger because she is well adapted to the world of technology in general.

User 2–

Age: 13

Gender: Female

Average time spent on phone/day: I would say about 3–4 hours.

Do you think you are addicted to your phone? Yes but I don’t think it’s very unhealthy.

How many times do you charge your phone daily? Anywhere from once to 5 times a day because i have an older iphone that can’t really handle the new updates.

Do you use your phone while you charge it? Yes and i use it more because i know it’s plugged in and won’t die.

Because this user is a little bit younger she is super attuned to how technology works. Her generation was born knowing how to use technology and thus she picked it up pretty quick. But the charger did not stop her from using her phone while it was plugged in. **Create a companion app that locks your phone/ gives you a notification when you are using your phone “Hey, you’re using your phone and its not charging.”

Age: 60+ (we understand this is not the target audience but it is beneficial to our testing to include)

Gender: Male

Average time spent on phone/day: I would say about 2–3 hours.

Do you think you are addicted to your phone? No i am not addicted to my phone.

How many times do you charge your phone daily? I charge it overnight and that’s about it.

Do you use your phone while you charge it? Yes, i use it before bed when it is plugged in.

“I don’t know that this charger would help me because I only really charge my phone overnight and therefore I am not using it then.”

This user is older and hasn’t experience technology like we have. He still understood that this piece charges your phone and knew how to operate it. However, it didn’t change his cell phone usage because he doesn’t use his phone enough to need it charged in the middle of the day. He thinks this charger would just be another piece of unnecessary technology.

** We weren’t really sure if we should stay within the under 25 age range but we now understand why. Older generations don’t suffer from phone addiction as much as younger generations do.

Our results of these methods (observation and brief survey/interview) reveal that this would be a successful implementation to reduce screen time and increase awareness if we added a companion app component.


Upon ideation, testing and gaining feedback, we can conclude that our solution is a usable product when applied to the correct age group. Our solution met our standards in the way that we didn’t necessarily expect our product to receive such positive feedback when applied to the correct age group; it’s not that we thought that our product wouldn’t work but more that users would think it would be more of a hassle than a solution. We were shocked that our users actually liked the product and were using it to better their experience with the people around them.

Our hypothesis changed drastically — especially when we interviewed an elder who does not really expose him to more technology than he has to. We realized that we would have to be much more specific in targeting our specific age group. If this product ever went to market, we would have to market it well towards a specific user or there could be very negative feedback calling it “unnecessary, troublesome, and another piece of technology.” We also realized that the most successful tests came from users who understood their addiction rather than ones that denied that they were in any sort of addiction to their device.

Initially we would’ve created an app component that encourages you and reminds you when your phone is plugged in not to use it. We created this app mockup later in the game but didn’t have it as an option in the beginning.

I would give mt group a 10 on process. I believe we hit all of the necessary steps leading up to testing the solution in order to gain valuable feedback from our users.

We learned that research into the actual societal problem greatly benefits the design process because it allowed us to become more empathetic towards ourselves and the people that we were gaining knowledge from. Actually understanding the problem helped us to be more thorough in designing the actual solution because we understood all components of the problem beyond what was presented to us in the problem statement.

We don’t think this solution is solvable, it’s becoming more of a way of life as we get more into what technology can do for us. We think that overall, technology is a good thing that will continue to evolve and help us become more intelligent. It is unfortunate that cell phones negatively affect so many people but in a way, the users will evolve with the technology and what is perceived to be an issue now will soon resolve itself into what is perceived as the “normal everyday.”