BBC brb is a data-enabled service that helps people to reduce their unbalanced use of digital media through insights into consumption patterns, adaptable tools, and support and goals.
The BBC is the world’s leading public service broadcaster. They’re impartial and independent, and every day they create distinctive, world-class programmes and content which inform, educate, and entertain millions of people in the UK and around the world.
Designing a new public service based on data. Exploring possible new BBC service offerings aimed at a mass market, with its core audience aged 16 to 34 years old, that are based on data, rather than manual content crafting.
As a group we quickly became interested in the BBC's role in digital media consumption.
The fast shift to being surrounded with multiple devices connected to the internet 24/7 has given us opportunities to communicate, work, and entertain ourselves wherever and whenever we want to. In our project we saw this topic of increasing device usage as an opportunity for exploration and wanted to dig deeper into how big of a problem overuse might be.
The Final Concept
A data-enabled service that helps people to reduce their unbalanced use of digital media through insights into consumption patterns, adaptable tools, and support and goals.
→ Digital device usage and media consumption
6 hours - The average person in the UK spends more than 6 hours a day online.
2,617 times - A 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe, and click on our devices 2,617 times each day.
12 minutes - People in the UK check their phones every 12 minutes.
71% say they never turn off their phone, and 78% say they could not live without their phone.
Excessive use can affect our physical and mental health and cause symptoms like social isolation, anxiety or lack of sleep and posture problems.
(Source: Ofcom, 2018, https://www.itstimetologoff.com/digital-detox-facts/)
→ The Attention Economy
Business models of most media companies rely on gaining more attention from their users. The more attention they get, the more revenue they generate.
We looked into how the businesses are built. Popular media and social media companies have developed multiple methods and features with the aim of hooking users to their services to generate more clicks and likes with methods like: 'digital rabbit holes' and 'slot machine effects'.
To address the issues of media overconsumption, policies need to be put in place. To inform evidence-based policies, data and further research are needed.
→ Experiment 1 - Daily patterns
Understanding individual’s behaviour patterns of digital device usage and identifying potential moments of harmful use.
We had participants tracking their use of multiple digital devices over a period of 3 days using existing tools such as "Apple Screen Time" and applications such as "Quality Time". We then displayed the usage (see image) back to them and asked them to tell us more about their reaction of seeing the results, in particular, what they found interesting or shocking.
• Key findings:
(1) People have different digital rhythms.
(2) Participants were generally shocked at the amount of digital media they consume.
(3) Participants were quick to identify moments of overuse that they would like to address.
→ Experiment 2 - Phone Detox
Understanding where the dependencies on these devices lied, and those hidden behaviours that we didn't know we have.
We locked away 7 participants' smartphones for a period of between 1 hour and 3 days depending on how long they were willing to go without their phones. We asked them to capture their needs, thoughts, and emotions in a diary.
• Common responses:
- "Worried people might need me."
- "Thinking I have missed something."
- Not knowing what to do in empty moments.
- Fear of being forgotten.
- Reaching to the phone with no need.
- All participants described joy when reunited with their phones.
We conducted 3 rounds of interviews. The first focussed on the interviewee’s values and goals, the second narrowed down to their relationships with media and the final took an expert view.
Key findings from interviews
→ Values and goals
- Have more online than offline friendships.
- Like to be part of a group and not be forgotten.
- Looking for something to do outside of the digital world.
- Self-discipline is really hard, even if the reward is clear.
→ Relationships with media
- Media is essential but can get lost in it.
- Most used when bored.
- Attempts to reduce media consumption often failed in the long-term.
- Dislike for superficial internet identities.
- Time spent online affected offline relationships.
“From what I’ve experienced, there is a big lack of understanding how people function, everybody is looking for data to identify behaviours.”
(Media Strategist at MediaCom)
From our research we identified 5 consumption patterns among all our participants.
(1) Looping: going through a sequence of media and starting from the beginning in hope for new content.
(2) Breaks in concentration: often caused by notifications.
(3) Compulsive checking: high number of unprompted or unconscious screen unlocks throughout the day.
(4) Lack of presence: using several screens simultaneously not paying much attention to either, usually a laptop and phone.
(5) Bedtime scrolling: the blue light on screens affects our sleep when consuming digital media in bed, increasing the time taken to fall asleep or getting out of bed.
Many participants had attempted workarounds such as hiding their phone, giving it to a friend while watching a movie or stacking phones when meeting friends.
How might we increase digital wellness with a data-enabled service?
The Final Concept