A New Lens Opens on the Impacts and Promises of Digital Media

January 16, 2020

As digital devices become ubiquitous in the world, so have concerns about the harmful effects of screen-related behaviors. Does screen time impair concentration, lead to anxiety or depression, hinder social behavior or curb our ability to tell fake from real news?

In order to answer these and other pressing questions that affect public policy, researchers at Stanford University and Penn State University say that we need to move beyond measures of screen time, and record and analyze everything people see and do on their devices.

The researchers argue that examining screen time alone is no longer sufficient because modern screen behaviors are too complex and varied. “The research has not kept up with the changes in technology,” said co-author Byron Reeves, who is the Paul C. Edwards Professor of Communication at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. “A lot of the research we have is incomplete, irrelevant or wrong because we don’t actually know what people are doing in these complex digital environments.”

The name ‘Human Screenome Project’ is a reference to the Human Genome Project and other federally funded ‘-ome’ projects that have produced large, sharable databases while maintaining the privacy of subjects. Reeves and his colleagues say they want to pursue a similar, open-source blueprint for a project that studies screen activity data while respecting user privacy.

As part of the Ontologies in Human Learning Research Theme, mediaX has provided a small grant of seed funding to this initiative.

Read further details in the Comment from the Nature Journal HERE

Read the entire Stanford News Story by Sandra Feder HERE

Watch Byron’s Talk from the #mediaX2018 Conference: How Do People Actually Use Their Smartphones