Each year, the number of hours we spend on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites grows exponentially. Yet research shows we’ve never been so unhappy with the way we spend our time.  As part of our Persuasive Design class, our design team (Myself, Sergio Majluf and Shilpan Bhagat) attempted to design a solution for this omnipresent problem. 

Benchmarks of Data:

  • In 2011, average users spent more than 5 hours per month on Facebook. In June 2013, the average user spent 10.5 hours monthly (20 minutes per day). That number has been rising steadily.
  • Overuse of Facebook has been directly linked with depression and lowering of mood (University of Michigan, August 2013)

Our Realization:

Our Solution:

We built a Google Chrome extension that shows a simple timer at the top of every page on Facebook, thus encouraging awareness of time spent. 

It has two modes: invisible timer and visible timer. The first mode tracked a user's initial time spent and logged that into our server without alerting or disturbing the user. The second mode, remotely triggered, displayed a timer into the user’s Facebook Timeline. 

What we found:

Over 20 users participated in our study. Once the simple ticking timer became visible, 90% of users decreased their usage of Facebook.

In the infinite scroll black hole of Facebook, it's more easy than ever to get seduced, sucked-in and lost. Our hope is that with a more acute realization of time spent, Perspective can be regained.