This paper incorporates an idea for an app called “Kick It.” “Kick It” is an app designed to help addicted cell phone users kick their cell phone addiction. In this paper you will read why this app is necessary, and the causes and effects of phone addiction. It will also cover more in-depth about the functions and features proposed for “Kick It” along with a timeline and target audience for the app. The project is based on the information in the articles cited at the end of the project.
“You’re addicted to your phone!” This is a phrase many phone-users in the younger generations have heard as a criticism from their parents, grandparents, and teachers. Most reject the comment, calking it up to old people not understanding technology. Perhaps some shouldn’t shrug it off so light heartedly. Phone addiction is real—and so are its consequences. A survey of college students found that they spend 5-6 hours on average looking at their phones. Most college students, myself included, would see that number and think its too high, and possibly make remarks such as “there’s no way I spend that much time on my phone.” The thing is, the students in the study had no idea that they were that enveloped in their online world either. Spending that much time on the internet has shown a number of unintended effects, including various physical, emotional, and neurological effects. These effects in turn result in negative outcomes in user’s lives. If users are motivated to reverse the negative outcomes that extended cell phone use causes in their lives, it is necessary to be knowledgeable of how much time you spend online, and have the resources to decrease that time. That is what my app, “Kick It,” aims to help users do—it aims to decrease users’ overall time spent on your phone and specific apps, and eliminate or hide elements of apps that are designed to be addictive.
RESEARCH AND LITERATURE
A way to treat cellphone addiction and a method to spread awareness about it is both needed and overdue. To solve this issue, we have to examine what the causes and effects are of phone addiction.
First and foremost, phone addiction is no different than other addictions as that users’ personality traits determine the extent to which they can get hooked. The personality traits which were determined to increase a user’s likelihood of addiction to their devices included: agreeability, extraversion, need for arousal, emotional instability, neuroticism, materialism, and conscientiousness (Roberts, Pullig, & Manolis, 2015). Another thing that is responsible for phone addictions are the app designers themselves. Apps are designed with features and functions that intentionally increase the likelihood of addiction to the app. Features such as red-colored notifications, the pull to refresh function, and the ability to view the number of likes, comments, and followers are intentional additions by the designers to get you hooked (Walton, 2017). However, the main reason that causes users to be prone to phone addiction is a gradual adaptation to the increase of daily social interactions we participate in when we use our devices. The reason for this deals with the ideas of mobility and freedom from geographic constraints. Mobility is the idea that with new technologies, such as texting, communication happens quicker and more frequently. Mobility enables us to overcome geographic constraints such as time, distance, and other physical barriers to communication. Technology like texting, snapchat, Facebook, and other popular apps allow us to have more social interactions with more people in more places, at all hours, and sometimes simultaneously with traditional social interactions (i.e. face-to-face, phone calls, or letter writing) (Kakihara & Cartsen, 2001). This means each users total number of social interactions per day increases the more you use these apps, and we adjust to this new social norm. Once we have adjusted to a heavy number of daily social interactions via apps and other social platforms, we go through a lonely and under stimulated withdrawal if we do not meet our new social requirement. This is how users get so hooked on online media.
When users become heavily invested in high quantity of interactions they get online, it has some unintended consequences. Heavy phone and app use is linked to anxiety, high blood pressure, and depression. The CDC found that those who spent five or more hours per day on their devices are twice as likely to have thought of suicide—of these, girls were particularly likely. Alice Walton stipulates that this is because social media that allows you to observe the activities of others, such as Instagram and snapchat, give the appearance of being a social interaction when in turn seeing others have fun makes teens more lonely. However, that may not be all there is to it. When forced to give up their phones, the students from the study felt psychological symptoms of withdrawal such as a loss of their extended self, and thus performed worse on mental and academic tasks.
My app, “Kick It” is the solution for young people to the problem that they may not have even known they had.
My app will be named “Kick It,” to insinuate you are kicking a bad habit. Its goals are to educate users about their usage, help block addictive functions on specific apps, and help reduce overall usage time. The main function of “Kick It” will be the ability to self monitor usage stats by tracking all apps on a device and time spent on them, as well as the amount of times the user checks the phone. The usage stats will be updated daily in a cohesive visual report in the form of a pie chart, with the total time listed below, which can be clicked on to view a breakdown of the the numbers by each app. Additionally, “Kick It” will be partnered with popular apps such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, to enable “Kick It” to block addictive functions such as the color and ability to see notifications, as well as the ability to see the amount of likes, comments, and followers that other users have. These settings will be blocked only when users of “Kick It” access the social apps through the link on the “Kick It” app. Finally, “Kick It” will provide daily goals to hit so the users can attempt to reduce the time they spend on social platforms. The goals will decrease gradually with the aim to wane the user out of their addiction, because no addict can be expected to be cut off cold-turkey. Users will have the ability to choose if the goals are set based on individual app usage or overall time spent on their device, to cater to both the users who wish to break an addiction to a single app, and an addiction to their whole phone. I want “Kick It” to remind users to check their usage via a notification, but the app will only send one notification a day as to reduce repetitiveness.
I believe an app like “Kick It” could be effective because it lets the user choose where their usage will go.
SIGNIFICANCE AND DISTINCTION
I am proposing “Kick It” as an idea for a new app, however, there are a few apps out there with similar elements I have proposed. An app called “Flipd” for example, tells you how much time you spend on your phone, but does not tell you how much time you spend on each respective app. “Flipd” also lets you mark times you should not be online and sends you notifications when you get sidetracked, however they do not limit how many notifications they send you—which likely causes users to start ignoring these warnings. Another similar app is called “Moment.” “Moment” lets you track total usage as well as usage by app, and set goals to reduce your usage.
“Kick It” takes these apps to the next level. It’s greatest distinction is the partnership between addictive social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, which allows users to access these apps through “Kick It.” When users use “Kick It” to open these apps, the features they have chosen to hide will be blocked, such as likes, followers, comments, and notifications. These are the most addictive features of social media websites, and many argue they are the only reason we like to use them. Blocking these features will in time make the apps less satisfying, therefore less addictive, and the urge for users to check these apps will decrease. Users will slowly ease away from using these apps as often and for long periods of time, which will in turn decrease their overall mobile usage time.
My target audience are primarily young mobile users ages 14-25. This can be narrowed down to individuals in that age range who use their phones heavily, which is considered five or more hours a day. These individuals can be reached through the apps they are addicted to. Advertisements can be placed on Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, targeting users of the given age group who use their apps for at least 2.5 hours a day. The adds should be positioned more heavily towards women, because women are more likely to fall into depressive tendencies because of excessive social media interaction (Walton, 2017).
Roberts, Pullig, & Manolis. (2015). I need my smartphone: A hierarchical model of personality and cell-phone addiction. Personality and Individual Differences, 79(C), 13-19.
Walton, A. G. (2017, December 11). Phone Addiction Is Real — And So Are Its Mental Health Risks.
Work Plan and Timeline