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InstaBrace Plugin and Wearable

How might design create awareness of destructive social media behaviors in Gen-Z women?


SVA MFA Products of Design in partnership with Johnson & Johnson


Jonathan Meléndez Davidson and Alexandre Hennen


2020 for 15 weeks


Margarita Zulueta, Katy Yuelapwan, Zekun Yang


Adobe CC (Photoshop, Illustrator, XD), Miro, Google Forms, Zoom


Interviews (virtual using a variety of methods: card-sorting, social media tour, storytelling), Secondary research, User recruitment, Persona Development, User journeys, Behavior mapping, UI/UX, Usability testing, Rapid Prototyping, Ideation

Designed a speculative wearable and plugin to improve the mental health of Gen Z women based on their social media behaviors and mental health desires

What We Did

Lead User Reactions

Thought the digital solution made sense because it was too difficult at that point to remove social media usage.

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

All relayed a desire to feel more connected to their physical selves and their emotions and found that aspect of the concept compelling

Next steps for this project would have been to expand with a larger sample size of users, develop a physical prototype to test in person, and expand on the flows of the plugin as a prototype to test.


From our initial secondary research, we discovered that 51% of women between the ages of 18-24 felt pressured to look perfect on social media.


In addition, 88% found they compare themselves to social media imagery and found themselves lacking.

Gen-Z women, in particular, have had social media be a part of their lives from early childhood, starting at around 8 - 10 years old, which has impacted how they grew up seeing themselves.

We wanted to look at how young women could see their individuality more positively in the face of constant social media usage.


This project was developed during the height of the 2020 COVID pandemic, so we were all adjusting to developing generative design research practices virtually. As a result, all of our interviews took place over Zoom and online. However, this did give us the ability to speak with lead users nationwide to get a better understanding of how American Gen Z women are affected by social media and what their desires are.

How we began

What we did

As a group we conducted a heavily research oriented approach to developing a discursive object and interaction experience to address gen z women’s social media behaviors and correlating mental health concerns.


Methods included: secondary research, user recruitment, virtual user workshops and interviews (as this project took place during the height of the covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to meet in person), digital co-creation, ideation, prototyping, concept testing, and iteration.

We spoke with lead users who were in the gen-z generation, had used social media since childhood (earliest was 8 years old), were female identifying, and would describe themselves as technologically literate.

Our subject matter experts were professionals in the social media, mental health, and education spaces.




of our 16 interviewees. I recruited 6/8 of the subject matter experts and 4/8 of the lead users.

My lead contributions

Main point for producing the


of the plugin development, such as determining places of intervention within social media applications

🔎 SME Observation

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.

🔎 User Observation

Our lead users felt social media is a necessary evil to maintaining connection even though they saw content that contributed to their negative self-perception.

😮 Insight

What we noticed that our lead users did not see was that they were trapped in a content feedback loop.

What is the content feedback loop?

The content feedback loop is where our users' would continually engage with imagery that did not make them feel good, such as by "liking" etc. This engagement told the algorithm that this was content they wanted to see, so they would be fed more content that negatively affected them, engage, and repeat.

The content feedback loop comes from physical and mental distance

The content feedback loop would keep recurring because our users felt a huge disassociation between their physical bodies and their mental states when on social media. So they would not register the negative feelings they had until later.

A wearable to bring the physical reactions to social media content the forefront

We designed a wearable bracelet that connects to the plugin to send a signal to the user about how they are feeling when they see content.

1) The haptic data received when users are scrolling through their social media content is relayed to the plugin's dashboard and to the bracelet.

2) The bracelet changes form as indicated by the tactile language guide to give users feedback about how they are feeling.

A plugin that provides your social media behavior histories in real-time

We designed a plugin that could be installed in your social media applications that lets gives users a reference of their reactions.

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.

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