By Maggie Bushman/ Communications Intern
Today, smartphone ownership has increased even among teens and adolescents. Media usage among these age groups is a hot topic of research, however, current research methods used to evaluate teen and adolescent screen time pose some challenges.
The common methods used to understand screen time are self-reporting and Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). EMA is comprised of repeated sampling of a subject’s experiences and behaviors in real time and in their natural environments. A disadvantage to self-reporting is that it can be exposed to bias. When self-reporting, participants might over or under estimate their app use, making the data inconsistent. On the other hand, EMA requires participants to complete multiple tasks a day. Participants are likely busy and are unable to commit to such a large time commitment, making this method burdensome.
This study proposes the use of a new methodology, the Battery Use Screenshot (BUS). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of the BUS methodology.
To analyze its feasibility, the BUS method was implemented into a larger study that was looking at technology rules and health behaviors among younger adolescents. Participants of the larger study were asked to complete a survey, which included uploading a screenshot of their battery use. The data from the battery screenshots was analyzed to determine their most frequently used apps/functions. This study found that Safari was the most commonly used app. The other frequently used apps/functions can be seen below.
The data showed that the BUS approach allowed for an easier way for both participants and researchers to keep track of media usage, unlike self-reporting and EMA. Along with its strengths, this method does have its weaknesses. Of the participants that owned a smartphone, only half of them were willing or able to upload their screenshot. The reason for this weakness could be caused by a variety of factors. One factor is the age group of participants. Or that Qualtrics surveys are completed on computers and not smartphones. Another possibility could be the amount of compensation provided for participating.
Another hurdle with this study was that there were participants who uploaded incomplete data. This could be attributed to which type of iOS operating system participants were using. Older versions didn’t show all of the criteria that the study observed.
Overall, this approach offers a potential avenue for researchers to both improve upon and eventually find the best ways to monitor app use in real-time. In further studies, this BUS approach could be adapted to Android phones as well.
The use of the Battery Use Screenshot methodology could provide researchers with accurate media use data to further answer questions on the effects of media use and health outcomes among young teens and adolescents.
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Infinite Scrolling, a blog post by Jim Smalley, urges readers to take a, “social media vacation.” He explains how to check battery usage to see which apps are being used the most. He was using the Battery Use Screenshot methodology.