🤔 The Challenge
"Gen-Z is the most at-risk generation for mental illness" and a contributing factor in depression is social media. Gen-Z is at risk because social media has been a part of their lives since early childhood (around 8-10 years). Young women are at particular risk because of the exacerbation of social media on body image issues. Gen-Z women understand the correlation, but still engage in destructive social media behaviors.
🤔 The Opportunity
How might we empower Gen-Z women through design to re-evaluate their digital social behaviors to make choices that are better for their mental health?
🖐 My role
Took the lead in digital strategy, UX, and UI of the plugin development, such as determining places of intervention within social media applications.
I also recruited 10 of our 16 interviewees. I recruited 6/8 of the experts and 4/8 of the lead users.
This project was developed during the height of the 2020 COVID pandemic, so we were all adjusting to developing generative design research practices virtually.
2020 for 15 weeks at SVA MFA Products of Design with Johnson & Johnson
Design Research, Product Strategy, Physical and Digital Experience Design
Adobe CC (Photoshop, Illustrator,Premiere, XD), Miro, Google Forms, Zoom
Concept Testing Results
💭 Implementation Strategy
Lead Users thought implementing the digital solution within the app itself made sense because it was too difficult at that point to stop using social media platforms because they would risk losing social connections, which at this time was hyper-imperative (during the COVID lockdown).
💭 Haptic Feedback Thoughts
Lead Users did not mind the haptic feedback as long as it did not feel invasive and were glad to feel somewhat in control of what they engaged with.
🙏 Desired Outcome
All relayed a desire to feel more connected to their physical selves and their emotions and found the connected IoT device compelling.
between the ages of 18-24 said they felt pressure to look perfect on social media.
88% of women compare themselves to images in the media and most find them unfavorable.
Discrepancy between Desires and Actions
Our SMEs overall noted a hyper-dependence on social media by this group. But, they also noted that they consciously wanted to spend less time on the apps.
Social media is a necessary evil for connection.
Our lead users felt social media is a necessary evil to maintaining connection even at the cost of seeing content that contributed to their negative self-perception.
Multiple accounts to maintain their image vs explore interests
Our lead users felt that the accounts they used to connect with friends were there to portray their idealized selves. They had 'finstas' (secondary accounts) that they used to explore their interests and see content they actually cared about.
We found out a couple of things from our secondary research and primary research methods.
EMPOWERING GEN-Z WOMEN TO MAKE HEALTHIER SOCIAL MEDIA DECISIONS
InstaBrace is a physical product and digital plugin that empowers young women to make mentally healthy choices when using social media. The bracelet is linked to a digital social media plugin that observes the user's social media behavior and uses haptic feedback to give the user insights into their real-time feelings and behaviors.
UNDERSTANDING OUR USERS, THEIR MOTIVIATIONS, AND BEHAVIORS
We developed a comprehensive research strategy to determine key motivations for continuing to engage in negative social media patterns. we began with problem framing via secondary research and thematic synthesis, user and subject matter expert identification and recruitment, user interview prep and conducting 1:1 interviews with 8 expert interviews and 8 lead users across the domestic United States, debriefs, insight synthesis and user journey mapping, problem reframing, and after ideation, concept testing, iteration, and following testing.
FROM OUR FINDING SYNTHESIS, WE ITERATED ON A KEY INSIGHT: OUR LEAD USERS WERE TRAPPED IN A CONTENT FEEDBACK LOOP OF THEIR MAKING
The content feedback loop is where our users' would continually engage with discouraging imagery as a result of feeling disassociated from their physical bodies when online. By continuing to engage, they told the media algorithm that this was content they wanted to see, and thus trapped in a cycle.
We decided to develop a system based on MBCT (Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy) that takes women out of that cycle by grounding them in the reality of their emotions in the physical world.
PRODUCT AND DIGITAL EXPERIENCE DESIGN
INTEGRATING A GROUNDING PRODUCT AND EXPERIENCE WITHIN SOCIAL MEDIA BEHAVIORS
We designed a physical bracelet to be paired with a digital plugin that aims to ground users' digital behaviors with their physical experiences. The digital plugin connects to their social media account, reads the users' emotional state with their feed, and in real-time sends a haptic signal to the bracelet. The signal comes in the form of a vibration change as detailed in our tactile language system.
DIGITAL EXPERIENCE DEVELOPMENT
A PLUGIN AND APP THAT PROVIDES YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BEHAVIOR HISTORIES IN REAL-TIME
1) Users can see trends and triggers in their emotional health data over a certain time period.
2) The plugin would also allow users to speak to the algorithm directly by setting a rate for how often they want to see certain types of content.
TESTING #2 & NEXT STEPS
WE DID ANOTHER ROUND OF CONCEPT TESTING WITH OUR PROTOTYPE WHICH GAVE US INSIGHTS
TO BASE FOLLOWING ITERATIONS ON.