The SmartSleep Experiment: Evaluation of changes in night-time smartphone behavior following a mass media citizen science campaign

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The increasing 24-hour smartphone use is of public health concern. This study aims to evaluate whether a massive public focus on sleep and smartphone use generated through a large-scale citizen science project, the SmartSleep Experiment, influence participants' night-time smartphone behavior. A total of 8,894 Danish adults aged 16 and above participated in the SmartSleep Experiment, a web-based survey on smartphones and sleep behavior. The survey was carried out for one week in 2018, combined with an extensive national mass media campaign focusing on smartphone behaviors and sleep. A follow-up survey aimed at evaluating whether survey-participants had changed their night-time smartphone behavior was carried out two weeks after the campaign. A total of 15% of the participants who used their smartphone during sleep hours at baseline had changed their night-time smartphone behavior, and 83% of those indicated that they used their smartphone less at follow-up. The participants who had changed their smartphone behavior had primarily taken active precautions to avoid night-time smartphone use, e.g., activating silent mode (36%) or reduced their smartphone use before (50%) and during sleep hours (52%). The reduction in sleep problems (54%), recognition of poor smartphone behavior (48%), and the increased focus on night-time smartphone use (42%) were motivational factors for these behavior changes. Using citizen science and mass media appeared to be associated with changes in night-time smartphone behavior. Public health projects may benefit from combining citizen science with other interventional approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0253783
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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