DUB Seminar will be conducted using Zoom, via an invitation distributed to the DUB mailing list. Participants who are logged into Zoom using a UW account will be directly admitted, and participants who are not logged in to a UW account will be admitted using a Zoom waiting room.
Interface designers often exploit psychological vulnerabilities to maximize clicks, views, and time on site. When people attempt to resist such media use, their failure rate is higher than for any other temptation in everyday life. Consequently, users often report feeling dissatisﬁed and regretful of the time that they spend on mobile apps. In response, concerned design practitioners and researchers have innovated screen time tools that let users track and limit the time they spend on their phones. Yet users report that reducing screen time is a poor proxy for their actual goals, so the problem persists.
In my work, I investigate how to respect the user’s time and attention by designing digital interfaces for a greater sense of user agency, i.e., the experience of control over one’s actions and their outcomes. My research on the YouTube mobile app, a common site of problematic use, finds that a majority of user goals are about shifting the quality of the content they consume on smartphones, not the quantity. Through a survey and co-design activities, I identify specific features that lead users to feel more or less control over how they spend their time on YouTube. Based on these features, I design and develop the SwitchTube mobile app, in which users can toggle between two interfaces when watching YouTube videos: Focus Mode (search-first) and Explore Mode (recommendations-first). In a field deployment of the SwitchTube app with 46 U.S. participants, I find that Focus Mode helps them realize a greater sense of agency without reducing their time spent in the app. My work highlights the need to think beyond ‘screen time’ and advances sense of agency as an alternative lens for addressing user frustrations with digital interfaces.
Kai Lukoff is an incoming Assistant Professor at Santa Clara University in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. He uses human centered methods to research, design, and develop technologies for digital wellbeing. His work explores how digital interfaces can lead to meaningful or meaningless experiences and support or undermine user sense of agency. He has redesigned features of YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and tested their effects on digital wellbeing in field experiments. His research has been published at CHI, CSCW, IMWUT, DIS, and in Mindfulness Journal. He recently completed his PhD at the University of Washington in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, where he was co-advised by Sean Munson and Alexis Hiniker. He also previously lived in China for 6 years where he worked as a product manager at mobile internet startups.