A Tamagotchi-like accessory could help keep screen addicts away from their phones

A new Tamagotchi-like device that encourages screen addicts not to use their phones has been designed by a Brunel Design School student.

Don’t Kill Murph encourages users to keep their phone in their pockets by rewarding good screen habits with treats and items for their virtual pet, Murph.

If the user slips and starts scrolling aimlessly on their phone, a dark cloud moves away over Murph, eventually crushing it after 30 minutes of continuous scrolling.

“I was looking at behavior change models for smokers and other forms of addiction,” said designer James Battishill, 24, from Gloucestershire.

“And although phone addiction is not currently considered a medically diagnosed addiction, a large group of researchers believe it should be, as it has effects such as loneliness, low self-esteem and poor sleep.There are so many mental health issues that can result from this.

Battishill said that aside from the obvious nod to the late ’90s hit toy, the Tamagotchi, Don’t Kill Murph is inspired by gamification theory and the work of Fitbit, which aims to get people moving by rewarding them for hitting a certain number of steps per day.

The designer said that while most modern phones now have apps that monitor screen time and usage, they’re good for showing a user their screen habits, but don’t do much to help her use her phone less.

“Our phones are designed to be addictive, and that’s the rub,” Battishill said. “So, in slightly paradoxical terms, I’m trying to use some of the techniques that the phone companies use to keep you on your phone to get by.”

The concept device, which was unveiled at Made in Brunel, the flagship exhibition for Brunel Design School students, connects to an app on the user’s phone via Bluetooth to collect screen time data .

Certain apps, such as the Phone app, will be excluded from Murph’s attentions, however, so as not to discourage people from adopting healthy habits such as talking to friends and family on the phone.

When the player is not using their phone, their character Murph receives coins to build their city of Murphtopia. They also have to feed their character, which is rewarded with a worm every time a user goes half an hour without looking at their phone.

However, if the player finds themselves scrolling endlessly on their phone, they risk overwriting their Murph and restarting the game.

“If you look at companies like Fitbit, they’ve had success using wearables to get people to do things that take effort, like running and walking,” Battishill said.

“People are getting addicted to this system. They know they’re playing a game, and their behavior can really change.

Reported by:

Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations

+44 (0)1895 268965
[email protected]

About Rhonda Lee

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