There are various apps that collect data concerning our activity. But they all have a single purpose: to provide suggestions to make the device they are working with more useful. In other words, developers of those apps just want to make the hardware they sell more attractive. However, in December 2020, Google introduced the Health Studies app. The latter allows users to register and participate in various studies. Of course, the app will collect corresponding data so that researchers can proceed with them and make assumptions. It’s free, and if you are interested in contributing to the digital well-being study, it’s recommended to download it and sign in as a participant.
Recently, scholars at the University of Oregon announced they used the app for a study that is going to discover the effect phones have on mental health. Simply put, the researchers want to understand how people use their smartphones and what effect it has on their well-being. As one of the lead researchers said in a blog post, the Health Studies app will help companies design better products and even shape policy and education in the future.
Due to the Health Studies app, scholars can understand how people actually use their phones. In the past, when researchers were using the traditional method of asking people to track and report their own usage of apps, data was less accurate. Therefore, the study outputs were less reliable. For instance, the app provides data that helps researchers to understand how the amount of time you spend looking at a screen actually affects your sleep.
The scholars said that they collect “direct, objective measures of how people use their phones” with “passive and continuous sensing technology.” Plus, your phone will be able to “directly measure many of the well-established building blocks of wellbeing, such as sleep and physical activity.” As we are dealing with a Google app, it’s logical that data collected from Fitbit products can be included in the study.
Google spokesperson Iz Conroy said that the system uses “some of the same APIs as” Android’s built-in Digital Wellbeing system that tracks how you use your phone, but the “data is collected separately under transparent research protocols.”
Researchers prove that the data “will be managed according to strict ethical standards and will only be used for research and to inform better products.” They clearly stated that the data “will never be sold or used for advertising.”