The Double-Edged Screen

Today’s post is the first in a series that will discuss the findings from our newest primary research study, The Double-Edged Screen.  At first glance, our findings seemed contradictory.  While most people have positive feelings toward their smartphones and tablets, it can be hard to determine when device usage is making their lives better and when it’s making it worse.  Struggling with moderation, many users wonder whether they and others are actually addicted to their devices.  This ambiguity is what makes screen usage such a double-edged sword and that is what our study was designed to explore.

Our research participants feel their devices are essential to staying connected, being productive, and functioning safely.  These devices also serve as a source of entertainment and relaxation throughout the day. In fact, 83% of participants say they experience positive feelings after using their smartphones.

“You never know when you are going to need your phone for something important. Not having it isn’t an option. You have to be accessible.”


But participants also acknowledge that their devices can have negative consequences, especially when their usage is excessive. Feeling disconnected, lack of productivity, and even addiction are frequent outcomes that complicate the relationship we have formed with our devices.

“I think technology is a necessary evil. But I definitely feel more on the addicted side.”

– gen x

As technology advances by leaps and bounds, the convenience of and dependency on our devices has increased, amplifying the conflict users feel. Our modern lives require us to be connected – but at what cost?  By using a mixed methodology, we were able to dig deeply into participants’ attitudes and behaviors and understand how seemingly conflicting feelings, both positive and negative, can coexist in their lives.  Our research captures not only their conscious and mindful behaviors but also the attitudes and behaviors that are usually left unarticulated:  the attitudes and behaviors that dwell on that double edge of ambivalence.  In the coming months, we will explore topics such as:

·      Social Media Use

·      Growing up Gen Z

·      Baby Boomers and Technology

·      Like Parent, Like Child

·      Digital Detox


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The Double-Edged Screen Methodology

The Double-Edged Screen is a primary research study conducted in early 2020 by Chirp Research. In this study, Chirp first conducted a nationally representative quantitative study (n=2000) to better understand perceptions of device usage, physical and mental impacts of device usage, and techniques for reducing screen time. Next, Chirp conducted multi-generational focus groups in Dallas and New York City to gain an intimate understanding of the role of technology and the positive and negative implications that device usage has on participants’ lives.  Additionally, we explored personal device usage and the impact of screen time on emotions and behaviors across generations and device types.