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Savitha Sangameswaran

Thesis/Dissertation Title:

Digital mind-body tools for adolescent sleep: Needs, preferences and design implications.

Sleep problems are common in adolescents and impact many aspects of young people. Pervasive media use, particularly in the evening, is a major reason for sleep problems in adolescents. Current approaches to reducing media use in adolescents with sleep problems have been met with many challenges. A “harm reduction model” based intervention to reduce the adverse consequences of media use (i.e., arousal from media use) without trying to eliminate media use can be feasible and helpful. Yet, very few studies have used the harm reduction model to target media use in adolescents. Mind-body approaches that improve self-awareness and self-regulation offer an alternative harm reduction-based approach to reduce media-induced arousal that could be more acceptable to families but has not been explored for media use among adolescents.
Mind-body approaches have been shown to help adolescents in the treatment or self-management of various conditions including insomnia, and sleep disturbance. Existing mind-body approaches for adolescents have been delivered in person or at schools but are not readily accessible due to high cost and high dropout rates. There have been increasing calls to deliver mind-body approaches digitally to adolescents making them more accessible and scalable. Even though there is an increasing focus on mind-body technology most of the existing literature has focused on the adult population. There is very little work involving adolescents in the design of mind-body technology. Because of the lack of work involving adolescents in the design of mind-body technology, this important primary user group is often left to use mind-body technology that is not designed considering their preferences and needs. Engaging adolescents in the development of technology for mind-body approaches can help inform design of tools that meet their needs.
In this dissertation, guided by Human-Centered Design (HCD) as a methodological framework that emphasizes the participation of technology users in the design process, I describe adolescent and parent perspectives on parental mediation strategies of adolescent bedtime media use (Aim 1). I examine adolescents’ and parents’ interests in the use of mind-body approaches to mitigate the effects of media use on sleep (Aim 2). I then formulate design implications for digital mind-body technology through co-design workshops with adolescents (Aim 3). Results from these studies can inform the design of informatics solutions that have the potential to mitigate sleep problems in adolescents. Implications that future researchers, designers, and practitioners should consider when creating new mind-body technology for adolescents include providing a variety of content with the ability to customize and personalize, including functionalities that engage adolescents like games and rewards while avoiding distractions, allow for granular sharing controls, provide intelligent content while maintaining privacy and trust, offer multiple modalities for interaction with technology and consider the context of adolescent and their families. Findings provide a foundation for designing digital mind-body tools for adolescent sleep.