Phenotyping Mobile Touch Interactions to Identify Habitual Phone Use in Adolescents


Research indicates that phone use is not inherently harmful for youth development; rather, phone use can become harmful when adolescents use their phones habitually. Habitual behaviours are those which are repeated frequently regardless of a person’s concurrent conscious aim, such as when an adolescent opens a social media App when they intend to look up a word definition. In this project, we will investigate whether habitual vs. non-habitual phone users can be systematically distinguished by their patterns of mobile-touch interactions immediately after they unlock their phones (‘digital phenotypes’). We will do this by relating, across 45 adolescents in both Mexico and UK , (1) touch-interaction data collected from a mobile sensing App to (2) an objective measure of screentime collected by the same App, and (3) questionnaire data regarding the extent to which phone use is habitual.

Project Team