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Mobiles could flash up warning messages to curb addiction

HealthBy Sunday World
Mobiles could flash up warning messages to curb addiction

Mobile phones could soon come with health warnings to prevent addiction.

According to Bournemouth University research, introducing these kinds of safeguarding measures could prevent mobile users from developing addictive behaviour and even depression.

A study carried out by psychologists at the uni, conducted in partnership with Streetscene Addiction Recover Ltd, found more than 80 per cent agreed warning labels were a good idea and would help them control their use of social networking sites.

“Research has shown that excessive and obsessive usage and preoccupation about technology are associated with undesirable behaviours such as reduced creativity, depression and disconnection from reality," Dr Raian Ali, a Senior Lecturer in Computing at BU, said.

“The immersive use of technology and presence in the cyber space can easily lead a person to become unconscious of the time spent, the side-effects of being overly online, and the potential risks of taking actions in a hasty style due to a sort of irresistible impulse.

“Thus, warning messages and labels are a social responsibility, ethical and professional practice for technology developers, at least to raise awareness so that people can make an informed decision on whether and how to use technology.”

The idea is an online limit could be set up, which warns users when they've spent a certain amount of time online. They could prove even more effective than warnings on tobacco and alcohol, because they can be adapted to suit each unique user.

“In contrast to traditional labels found on tobacco and alcohol, digital labels can be designed to be intelligent and interactive,” Dr Ali said.

“While tobacco and alcohol cannot tell their ‘users’ to stop, software fortunately can.

“But the development of intelligent software able to understand users and personalize the labels so that they fit their context, preferences and values to ensure their effectiveness are all challenges we still have to address.”

The research found motivational messages would prove most effective, suggesting screens turning from green to red and flashing up personalised encouragement texts.

A report in early October (15) showed relying on text messages and emails to stay in touch with loved ones can double the risk of mental illness.

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