Google announces that it is partnering with the Center for Digital Mental Health at the University of Oregon to conduct a study on the mental health of smartphone users.
Are we completely safe when using a smartphone? This is the question that Google hopes to answer as it continues its research on digital well-being and is now partnering with the University of Oregon to better understand the real habits of consumers with regard to the use of their cell phone.
A study carried out via a Google application
To achieve this, the University of Oregon will use the Google Health Studies app here. This study is supposed to produce results by referring to the actual use people make of their smartphones to determine the effect this may have on their overall well-being. In a blog post, one of the main researchers of this project indicates that the final objective of this study will be to offer products more adapted to recent consumption habits, but also to be able to shape future usage policies. Google’s app gives searchers much more accurate results than simply asking people to describe their own daily usage. They hope to obtain a much more detailed approach in order to establish previously unobservable links, such as the relationship between your screen time and your sleep, or the relationship between your use and your level of physical activity, for example.
The intention is also to recruit as many people as possible on this study, the reduction of the involvement of the participants having to contribute to a broader participation in order to obtain a truly significant sample. It will also allow researchers to collect data on understudied or younger populations. These much more objective measurements collected through passive and continuous detection of participants’ usage will also be correlated with other data that may also be collected. For example, if you use a connected watch in addition to your smartphone, it will also be possible to share this data for more details.
According to Google spokesperson Iz Conroy, the system the company is using to conduct this study uses some common APIs with Android’s digital wellbeing system. However, it assures us that the data collected (such as the number of times the user unlocks their smartphone or the categories of applications used) are collected separately according to transparent protocols. Informed consent will be requested from each participant in the study for the management and use of data and Google ensures that they will never be sold for advertising purposes.
Originally, the Google Health Studies application presented in 2020 was intended to allow participants to contribute to studies by making their data available to researchers without having to provide their personal information. The study in question will be launched on May 27 and will last 4 weeks. However, it does not seem to be available in France.
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