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Smartphones are saving and wasting our time

The use of smartphones generates ambivalent user experiences – they are seen as both time-saving and time-wasting devices.

In a recently published study, researchers at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIITexplored the kinds of positive and negative experiences that users have of smartphones. Over a two-week period, twelve smartphone users recorded all their experiences related to the use of the device.

Whereas on the one hand, smartphones were seen to save time by, for example, by allowing the users to easily read their emails wherever they happened to be, on the other hand, a lot of time was wasted playing games during lectures or surfing the net while at work.

‘While smartphones can save us time, they can also be used to waste it. Killing time with a smartphone, so it seems, is quite addictive and difficult to resist. Some users reported even being embarrassed by their continuous habit of killing time, but they still could not resist it,’ says researcher Eeva Raita.

‘Time seemed to an important evaluation dimension for the users. For example, the participants reported that if something took too long to do with the phone or an app responded too slowly, then they stopped using it. Users also got frustrated by the kinds of functions that were supposed to speed up everyday tasks but, in fact, actually ended up adding or wasting a significant amount of time instead.’

The findings show that smartphones induce mixed feelings.

The study conducted by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, entitled Mixed Feelings? The Relationship between Perceived Usability and User Experience in the Wild, will be published as part of the international NordiCHI2014 conference, held in Helsinki on 26–30 October 2014.

Further information:

Eeva Raita, M.Soc.Sci, Researcher, Department of Social Research,
University of Helsinki.
E-mail: [email protected], Tel: +358 50-3746656

The Helsinki Institute of Technology HIIT combines the activities of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University. Research at HIIT focuses on the core methods of using ICT and technologies, as well as on new applications of technology and their effects on people and society. www.hiit.fi

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