Thursday, March 28, 2019

Happy Apps, Unhappy Apps

The Center for Humane Technology has been trying to measure which phone Apps make people happy or unhappy. These ratings are based on an App called Moment, which is supposed to help people manage their phone use by tracking how much time they spend on various apps. Above, the happiest apps (among those with enough use in their sample to generate valid statistics).

And the unhappiest.

They also found big effects based on how much time people spend on each app. For example, happy people who play Candy Crush average 12 minutes a day, while unhappy people average 47 minutes. Happy people use Facebook 22 minutes a day, unhappy people 59 minutes.

So, basically, happy people spend less time on social media or playing games and more listening to music, podcasts, or recorded books. Also, spend less time with your phones and do something else.

I had to laugh when I saw that Google Calendar is one of the happiest apps, because this confirms the old intuition that mentally ill people have trouble staying organized.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

They don't explain how they measure "happiness" anywhere, so this I'm really not sure this information is of any real use. We're lacking too much context.

The big correlation that stands out is that spending more time in an app seems to correlate to "unhappiness" (whatever that means, since they don't tell us).

But while some might feel compelled to point to that and say, "Aha! See? Phones and modern technology are bad, and make people unhappy!", I have to wonder if perhaps it's indicating other things entirely.

Do people who are already unhappy spend more time on given apps as a means of trying to combat their unhappiness? Does a higher daily usage value indicate that maybe an app is poorly designed and frustrating to use?

How about latency and network issues? People with older phones that don't have the processing power to reduce load times, as well as people with poorer quality network connections, will quite naturally spend a whole lot longer using a given app for any given purpose, which should direct lead to them reporting "unhappy" experiences.

Without answers to these and similar questions, we don't have a proper sense of what's actually going on. The picture painted for us is incomplete, and so all judgements rendered off it are equally so.