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Time is TBD



Electronic Device Self-Regulation Action Circle

Access to electronic devices and social media has become ubiquitous. Despite the many benefits of this technology and its necessity for navigating much of contemporary life, there is growing evidence of concomitant individual and societal harms.

Electronic Device Self-Regulation Action Circle
Electronic Device Self-Regulation Action Circle

Time & Location

Time is TBD



About the Event

Problem Statement

Access to electronic devices and social media has become ubiquitous. Despite the many benefits of this technology and its necessity for navigating much of contemporary life, there is growing evidence of concomitant individual and societal harms [1]. Excessive, unregulated exposure to digital content is increasingly associated with developmental and mental health related risks for children and youth [2,3].

Action Circle Objectives

We’re inviting Values to Action members to commit to spending 1 hr per week for 8-12 weeks on the following tasks:

  1. Conducting an analysis of the incidence and prevalence of problems associated with over consumption of screen time in children and adolescence
  2. Review the risk factors associated with screen-time consumption
  3. Review the programs and policies (if any) that have been shown to ameliorate problems associated with screen-time use (including reducing screen time itself).
  4. Develop a program (or a plan for a program) that would increase self-regulation and self-monitoring of personal screen-time use for children and adolescence.
  5. Draft a guide that could be used by parents and community leaders to reduce screen-time use.

Solution Description

This proposal outlines one potential solution that focuses on improving the ability of individuals of all ages to better self-regulate their use of electronic devices, including social media, in a way that aligns with their values and promotes a healthier relationship with digital media.

Better electronic device and social media self-regulation has the potential to empower individuals to use digital devices and social media in ways that reduce their risks and even benefit their well-being. This would result in a shift, providing a more balanced experience of benefits between consumers and the bottom lines of large, multinational technology companies.

Program Principles

The proposed solution will most likely exist as a third-party app but could also be incorporated into a device’s operating system. This tool will operate on the following principals:

  1. A trust-based approach for children and youth under adult supervision.
  2. Planned, intentional use of electronic devices.
  3. Emphasis on the ability of users to regulate their own screen time.
  4. Multiple forms of reinforcement contingencies based on the age and preferences of the user. It is important that potency of the reinforcement be equivalent to, or greater than the reinforcement value of continuing to use the device or using apps/programs they plan to regulate.
  5. Much like a behavioural vaccine, establishing healthy electronic device use habits.

Design overview:


The individual determines the parameters of use of their device. In other words, the user – alongside a caring adult in the case of children – will determine in advance what they intend to do on their device and for how long.


Once the parameters have been established, during use, the application program will provide prompts and feedback (both positive and corrective) based on the pre-determined parameters.

Feedback and Reinforcement

If the user successfully stays within the predetermined parameters, they will receive positive feedback and reinforcement. If unsuccessful, the user will receive feedback and suggestions for areas of improvement.

Other Considerations:

Adult responsibilities with minors

Based on user group age ranges, this program will provide several levels of caring adult oversight. This will range from high caring adult involvement to a moderate level of caring adult involvement to full user control.

Potential Future Expansion / Add-Ons

  • Group / peer co-regulation and support
  • Targeted Issues
  • Addictions – gaming, gambling, shopping etc.
  • Exploitation of minors (potential partnership with ‘Power Over Predators’)
  • Social Media
  • Social Comparison / Influencer sites
  • ‘Fake’ News
  • Personal information awareness and safeguarding

Action Circle Expertise/Interest

As one of the outputs will be a consumer product (App), this Action Circle will require various areas of interest and expertise, including the following:

1. Behavioral Science

a. research and evaluation/testing

b. applied (App design)

2. Digital Media Technology

3. Financing

Ultimately, I foresee two ‘products’ for this AC:

1. Publishable Guidebook as Tony has outlined

2. The App


  1. Twenge, J.M., Haidt, J., Joiner, T.E. et al. Underestimating digital media harm. Nat Hum Behav 4, 346–348 (2020).
  2. AAP COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. Media and Young Minds. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5):e20162591
  3. Betul Keles, Niall McCrae & Annmarie Grealish (2020) A systematic review: the influence of social media on depression, anxiety and psychological distress in adolescents, International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25:1, 79-93, DOI: 10.1080/02673843.2019.1590851

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