How to improve digital media: understand human behaviour

A boy uses an iPad to play a video game, which is projected onto the surface of the Fiesp building, headquarters of the Industry Federation of Sao Paulo, during the "Play!" exhibition in the financial center of Sao Paulo's Avenida Paulista March 27, 2013.

Unguided use of digital media can alter a child's development Image: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Claudio Cocorocchia
Platform Curator, Shaping the Future of Media, Information and Entertainment, World Economic Forum Geneva
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Have you ever placed your toddler in front of a cartoon on your smart device because you thought it would calm her down? What about thinking that your 6-year-old would benefit greatly from a portable Playstation Vita?

Think again. Research has proven that a child's unguided use of digital media can alter their sociological, developmental and behavioural patterns in negative ways.

At the same time, many digital offerings from media, entertainment or information companies targeted at adults could be drastically improved. If you have ever used an app or visited a website that you felt was designed more for advertisers, rather than users, then you know what I mean.

In all of these cases, understanding the influencing factors behind human behaviour can be extremely helpful in making the right decisions. Whether you are a digital media product executive, a parent, or both, we all can benefit from more input from the social and behavioural sciences.

For industry, there are businesses such as SensoMotoric Instruments who provide human eye and gaze tracking systems, which can help digital media companies design and develop better user experiences for their audiences. For parents, most countries have civic organizations run by paediatricians or social scientists that are focused on helping prevent digital media overuse in children; a good example is Europe’s

Ultimately, being more aware of social and behavioural insights related to digital media use will make us better digital media professionals - and more responsible consumers.

You can view seven short videos about the societal implications of digital media and the impacts on various aspects of our lives:

Author: Claudio Cocorocchia, Content Lead, Media, Entertainment and Information Industries, and a Global Leadership Fellow

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