New research by Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) students and faculty finds that nearly half of parents and caregivers wish to limit their cell phone usage at playgrounds, but have difficulty doing so.
The study, led by HCDE PhD student Alexis Hiniker, came out of a Winter 2015 HCDE Directed Research Group on Technology Use and Family Life. The researchers examined more than 40 hours of interactions at playgrounds in north Seattle and collected data from 466 adult caregivers, asking questions about their phone usage and their phone usage intentions. They found that 44% of people wished they could separate from their phone more easily, but boredom at the playground often trumped their fear or guilt. On the other hand, they found that 24% of people felt strongly that their phones needed to be put away and were successful in doing so.
Encouraging findings show that on the whole, playground cell phone usage was relatively low. Two-thirds of adults spent less than 5 percent of their time at the park using a phone, and most phone interactions lasted less than one minute.
This research has implications for mobile app designers, suggesting that a “parenting mode” setting could help people fulfill their intentions of focused time with their children.
Hiniker presented the paper "Texting while Parenting: How Adults Use Mobile Phones while Caring for Children at the Playground," at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2015 conference in April 2015. Co-authors on the paper include HCDE PhD students Kiley Sobel, Hyewon Suh, and Yi-Chen Sung, and HCDE Associate Professors Charlotte P. Lee and Julie Kientz.
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