Have you ever accused someone or been accused of spending too much time on the phone? It seems that time may not be entirely wasted after all.

A recent study by Kaveh Abhari from San Diego State University and Isaac Vaghefi from the City University of New York, USA found that monitoring the time spent on the phone with the help of apps can improve a person’s focused or attentive use of it.

The fact itself increases perceived productivity and user satisfaction, according to the study. The research was recently published in the journal AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction (THCI), according to SciTechDaily.

The positive effect of self-control

While much research has focused on the negative effects of spending time on the phone, the present case study seeks to discover whether certain self-regulatory behaviors could lead to user behavior change.

“We theorized that people who tracked their phone use and set goals related to that use tended to be more productive and satisfied with their productivity as they achieved their set goals. Previous research has shown that goal setting tends to increase performance expectations, and we wanted to see if this theory also holds for smartphone screen time,” said Abhari.

A way to boost people’s productivity

In a study involving nearly 500 college students, they were asked to install an app on their cell phones that would monitor their phone time. This app allowed users to set limits or goals regarding the amount of time spent in front of the mobile phone screen.

“The results suggest that optimizing, but not minimizing, screen time is more likely to increase user productivity,” said Abhari.

The effect of fatigue

The researchers found that self-monitoring induced fatigue and weakened the effect on productivity, although it was not a significant factor affecting the relationship between self-monitoring and satisfaction with productivity achievement.

In conclusion, Abhari and Vaghefi determined that while uncontrolled use of mobile phones could have a negative impact on people’s lives, controlled screen time – with specific goals – can generate greater overall satisfaction of the user.

“This study could lead system developers to integrate features into mobile devices that allow for self-monitoring. These features could improve the quality of screen time and improve the relationship between people and technology,” said Abhari.

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