Evaluating the Effectiveness of Apps Designed to Reduce Mobile Phone Use and Prevent Maladaptive Mobile Phone Use: Multimethod Study

Fety Ilma Rahmillah, Amina Tariq, Mark King, Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Mobile apps are a popular strategy for reducing mobile phone use and preventing maladaptive mobile phone use (MMPU). Previous research efforts have been made to understand the features of apps that have the potential to reduce mobile phone use and MMPU. However, there has been a lack of a comprehensive examination of the effectiveness of such apps and their features. OBJECTIVE: This paper investigated existing apps designed to reduce mobile phone use and prevent MMPU and examined the evidence of their effectiveness. The research aimed to provide a comprehensive analysis of app features that can reduce mobile phone use and MMPU, while also assessing their effectiveness. In addition, we explored users' perceptions of these apps and the various features the apps offer to understand potential adoption issues and identify opportunities. METHODS: This study used 3 methods: a review of scientific evidence, content analysis, and sentiment analysis. RESULTS: Our study comprehensively examine the common features of 13 apps designed to reduce mobile phone use. We extracted and classified the features into 7 types: self-tracking, social tracking, goal setting, blocking, gamification, simplification, and assessment. The effectiveness of these apps in reducing mobile phone use and MMPU varied from weak to strong. On the basis of content analysis, self-tracking and goal setting were the most frequently used features, whereas gamification and assessment were used the least frequently. The intervention strategies that effectively reduce mobile phone use and MMPU included using grayscale mode, app limit features, and mixed interventions. Overall, users tended to accept these apps, as indicated by sentiment scores ranging from 61 to 86 out of 100. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that app-based management has the potential to reduce mobile phone use and MMPU. However, further research is required to evaluate the effectiveness of app-based interventions. Collaborations among researchers, app developers, mobile phone manufacturers, and policy makers could enhance the process of delivering, evaluating, and optimizing apps aimed at reducing mobile phone use and MMPU.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere42541
Pages (from-to)e42541
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume25
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • apps
  • features
  • maladaptive mobile phone use
  • mobile phone
  • problematic phone use

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