Google will allow researchers to measure the impact of smartphones on mental health

They will be able to use an application designed by the company for a study on digital well-being.

While mental health is often talked about in relation to social media lately, it can also be a cause for concern with technology. Google has just partnered with the University of Oregon to study the impact of smartphone use on well-being. Over a period of four weeks from May 27, this study will be done using the Google Health Studies application, which allows you to contribute to health research from your phone.

A team from the University’s Digital Mental Health Center will use a “passive and continuous sensing technology” on participants’ smartphones to directly measure sleep, physical activity and other building blocks of well-being. Note that the study is only open to adults using an Android smartphone and able to carry out their daily activities without assistance. It will also be possible for participants to add data from their Fitbit watches such as the number of steps.

A new research method

By collecting data on smartphones, the researchers hope for a new approach to digital well-being that could not be seen with other studies. “Most scientific research on digital wellbeing has relied on self-reported questionnaires, which are highly subjective. Could you tell how many hours or minutes you used your phone here without checking your Screen Time metrics? Probably not “says Nicholas Allen, director of the University’s Center for Digital Mental Health.

Scientists felt that new, activated research into the benefits and risks of the technology is needed, as should a rethink of what is asked of the people and individuals included in it. Affirming that existing studies have generally had small or unrepresentative samples, they indicate that it is essential to incorporate data from people historically underrepresented in the field of health research with new survey methodologies. With a study based on volunteering, they are likely to recruit a large representative sample and hope to discover information allowing them to “Building a future where digital products help us live healthier and happier lives”. This, in a context where many believe that smartphones and social networks are beneficial for mental health and well-being.

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