Abstract: Have you ever found yourself checking your phone at an inappropriate moment? Or looking up from a casual game and wondering where the time went? If so, you’re not alone, as people report widespread feelings of dissatisfaction with the way they engage with technology and a lack of control over their own behaviors. “User engagement” is a fundamental design goal for many consumer-facing products, and the resulting technologies are often irresistibly engaging. Though modern technology offers enormous value and convenience, many people report a desire to disengage and an inability to change their habits. In this talk, I will describe a series of studies to understand people’s feelings about their engagement patterns and new systems and tools for both children and adults to support intentional engagement. Based on findings from this work, I will discuss what individuals, developers, and policy-makers can do to tackle this problem and improve our collective self-efficacy.
Bio: Alexis Hiniker is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington in the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering where she studies the relationship between technology design and human well-being. She holds a master’s degree in Learning, Design, and Technology from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Harvard. She is the technical co-founder of Go Go Games Studios, a startup company that builds educational games for children on the autism spectrum. Her research has been covered by The New York Times, TIME Magazine, NPR and many other prominent national media outlets. And she has been the recipient of numerous accolades for her industry work, including the Parents’ Choice Gold award, the “academy award” of children’s media. Her past and current research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Sesame Workshop, the Google Anita Borg Scholarship, the Facebook Fellowship Program, the Duca Fund, and more. Before returning to graduate school, Hiniker spent six years as a software engineer and engineering manager at Microsoft working on Windows and the .NET Framework.