Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Screen time is good for you – maybe

image of child typing on ipad screen

Anne says: I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with the anti-screen time for children – or the way it’s applied. (It also reminds me of early childhood when some parents – not mine – banned TV). But – the reports and studies indicated that very limited screen time for young children was essential – and as a researcher, I appreciate the value of robust studies. Then again, sometimes it didn’t sit in my understanding of the findings. Now, in an era of alternative facts, we have a new study from the Oxford Internet Institute that has questioned these accepted approaches. In fact, they’re saying it’s good for children!! How about that !!! 

This study was specifically investigating 2 propositions:

“The first was to test if there were ‘optimal’ levels of screen time in young people,…
“The second was to look for a critical value, or tipping point, at which screen engagement was significantly related to well-being outcomes.”

And what did they find? 

That using screens “for more than five hours a day” was required before any significant differences would be noticed. This totally contradicts the current advice of no more than 2 hours per day. 

And here’s the upside:

The… analysis suggests that children who are using a digital device—a television,video game console, tablet, laptop, smartphone, or any other gadget with a screen—have better social and emotional skills than kids who don’t use this technology.

The study was extensive (35,000 US-based children) and the data was from the US census bureau – this is the same data used by studies that claim screen time is bad for children. So – who do we believe? It’s a valuable reminder that statistics can be used to validate or invalidate opinions, you need to understand how the statistics are being interpreted and what is not being studied (ignored) to create a confirmation bias situation.   

Maybe the next step is to understand how the devices are being used and the content types to determine what is useful or not? But that’s a question for another study!


Australian Teens Are Using TikTok To Show The World How Bad The Bushfires Are

Anne says: Meanwhile, our kids have grown into teens. They’re digitally savvy, they know how to get a message across – visually and in a short burst. (It’s probably the same ones who had more than 2 hours per day screen time). 

I found this story inspiring. These kids are spreading the word about the Australian bushfires and they’re reaching massive audience numbers – and they’re getting the attention of traditional media. All from the screens!

If you’re not familiar with TikTok – take a look at these examples and be impressed by how these older kids are using digital to express themselves.


11 things I learned about user research from watching Mindhunter


Jakkii says: I’ll start right off the bat by saying I haven’t actually seen Mindhunter. It’s on my list on Netflix but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Nonetheless, this article appealed to me from the title alone, immediately getting me wondering just what the author learned from a show about FBI Profilers.

Here’s the list:

  1. The idea of doing user research can face some initial pushback. But you just need to find a champion to get started
  2. Talking to users is the only way to understand them
  3. You don’t have to agree with what they say, you just have to listen
  4. It’s okay to go off-script. You’ll be surprised by what you find out
  5. People are always willing to talk about their problems
  6. Some users are more willing to share than others
  7. Sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get users talking
  8. Insights come from patterns
  9. Sharing insights can help you predict what users will do next
  10. Accurately predicting how users will behave takes time
  11. Talking to users helps capture them

During the explanations of each point, in one the author goes so far as to say:

The relationship between the FBI team and Kemper holds inspiration for some great participatory design sessions. 😄

Which, gross, but OK – comparing the FBI using Kemper (and others) to help them catch and stop other predatory serial killers to participatory design is more than a bit icky, even if I can see the point they’re trying to make. Questionable comparisons (and some creepy GIFs) aside, I think the author has come up with a pretty good list. I particularly like point 3, as this is something stakeholders, in particular, can have trouble with when you are reporting back findings. It’s not just for interviewers, but for those who need to take on board what the research is telling you – you don’t have to like what users say, but you do have to listen.

I think one point that isn’t called out here as its own thing that’s also important – but maybe doesn’t fit with the ‘FBI Profiler’ analogy the author put forward – is how important it is to not ‘lead the witness’. From question design to your verbal and non-verbal cues, it’s a learned skill that takes a lot of practice. But it’s an important one, and the integrity of the data you collect relies upon the researcher doing their best to remain neutral, asking open questions that don’t hint at a solution or a particular answer someone wants to hear.

What do you think? Do you think user research has some similarities to a Mindhunter FBI Profiler, as the author suggests? Or do you think they’re way off the mark? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on social media. 


Storytelling is a powerful communication tool – here’s how to use it, from TED


Jakkii says: First up, a caveat: the purpose of this piece is to sell you the TED Masterclass app and course, so consider it with that lens. From my perspective, the content is worthwhile; where the ‘selling’ aspect comes in is that this is quite high-level and trying to guide you to want more. And if you do, the links are all there for you. If you don’t, I think there’s still something to be taken from the article.

In this piece, the author discusses the power of storytelling in communication, using some examples of TED talks throughout. The key points covered are:

  • The theory that the human mind evolved through storytelling
  • Many of the best TED talks are anchored in storytelling
  • Execution in storytelling is critical
  • We must avoid the trap of storytelling that only serves our ego, and doesn’t give anything to the listener
  • The stories we tell must be true
    I would add in this context, i.e. in the context of giving a TED talk or similar, as, of course, not all stories that humans use to communicate ideas and that have power and meaning are true.

Stories resonate deeply in every human. By giving your talk as a story or a series of related stories, you can greatly increase your connection with your audience. But please: Let it mean something.

We’ve touched on storytelling in various ways over the course of our Friday Faves, most recently in May when I shared a piece on ‘the real reason fans hate the last season of Game of Thrones’. That article explored the change in the way the story was told from the earlier seasons to the last one, and it’s well worth a revisit. I liked that piece for its discussion of sociological storytelling. In contrast, what I like about the piece I’m sharing this week is its simplicity. While it may not provide much detail, the key points outlined above are actually quite practical as they stand, and even if you’re already familiar with storytelling as a communication tool, serve as a simple reminder of things to be conscious of when we craft our stories for our audience.

What do you think? Is there anything you’d add to a high-level, simple list for crafting and communicating ideas through storytelling? Let me know in the comments or on social media!


This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism, trolling and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

[ Facebook ] told the joint standing committee on electoral matters in a submission: “Facebook does not believe that it’s an appropriate role for us to be the arbiter of truth over content shared by ordinary Australians or to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny.” – The Guardian

Marketing, advertising and PR


Facebook’s Libra and Calibra

Every major US payment processor has now exited the [ Libra ] association, and it’s left Facebook with the daunting task of convincing governments that Libra is an option, just when trust in Facebook is at an all-time low. That’s not stopping Facebook from launching a more traditional payment system today, though. – The Verge

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: the truth, free speech and the design of online platforms. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

The stories this week

02:44 Twitter bans political ads

18:15 What a scam on Airbnb reveals about platform design

Other stories we bring up

Remember that scary AI text-generator that was too dangerous to release? It’s out now

Our March 2019 conversation about the new AI fake text generator that was too dangerous to release

Twitter’s ban on political ads

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg rules out banning political adverts

Political ads at Facebook make money by manipulating us

The real reason Facebook won’t fact-check political ads

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s paid advert that claimed Mark Zuckerberg had personally endorsed Donald Trump for re-election

Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince decides to kick someone off the internet

Our December 2018 discussion on fake restaurants

Zervas et al. paper on A first look at online reputation on Airbnb, where every stay is above average


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