Designing amid Digital Distraction

You may have noticed that things have been a little, shall we say, crazed in our culture. You don’t need to go far to see that kids, teens, adults, friends, co-workers, and neighbors feel called to check their phones, emails, game scores, and online connections. All the time.

Among other things, researchers have found anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, stress, and weight gain to be tied to excessive time on computers and other devices. In a time of continuous partial focus, a few Stanford designers and I thought that the attention–and intentions–of millions of young people who will be shaping tomorrow’s world deserves addressing.

This year we created Presence Project and a tacklebox-like toolkit to help families reconnect around their passion projects. A few ideas for creating more imaginative experiences and enjoyment in being together can be found here, and these resources can also help on your quest.

I’m thankful for the chance to work with the talented product designer Kyle Williams as well as the Bay Area families who invited us into their living rooms and lives. The project is ongoing and has generated interest from schools in Silicon Valley.

I recently had a chance to talk with author and instructor extraordinaire Howard Rheingold about the project for Digital Media and Learning. You can see our conversation, which includes a discussion of the work of the Calming Technology Lab, here.