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Engage with media in a balanced way

BBC brb

BBC brb - be right back - is a data-enabled service that helps people reduce excessive use of digital media with:

1. Personalised information of consumption patterns.

2. Adaptable tools: nudges and modes.

3. Support and goals for improvement


Problem framing

Concept validation



(Media &

Public health)


2019, Apr.-Jun.

My Role

Service design 

UI UX design

User research

Design strategy


Branding design

Anchor 1


The BBC needs to remain visible, relevant and loved by its audiences. There has been a noticeable drop-off in the size of this audience over the last few years. The BBC knows that its connection to this group is vital for the future. One approach to this challenge is to provide new services of value that are outside the remit of commercial operators. These distinct new services will :


- Fulfil the BBC’s public service mission

- Gain the attention of its audiences.


Designing a new public service based on data that helps young people reduce the increasing amounts of time spent on media consumption across their digital devices.



• Understand an individual's behaviour patterns when using digital devices.

• Identify the period of time spent on harmful use of media consumption.

• Empowering users to reduce excessive screen time in order to enhance their digital wellness.

• Rewarding users and increasing engagement.


80% of users found it helpful


Prototyped this concept with 10 people and 80% of them were able to focus on important tasks and reduce excessive media consumption. 

Endorsed by stakeholders at the BBC


Pitched this idea to over 10 BBC stakeholders and got them all to buy-in for future implementation. Provided data collection to learn about user media consumption behaviors that can inform the new content strategies.

BRB_Design approach



In our project we saw the increase in device usage as an opportunity worth exploring and wanted to dig deeper into how big the problem of overuse might be. We also saw this fitting in with the BBC's brief and bringing public value on a larger scale.


The trend of media consumption in the UK

The average person in the U.K. spends more than

6 hours a day online. 

A 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe and click on our devices 2,617 times each day. The fast shift to being surrounded with multiple devices connected to the internet 24/7 has captured our focus and affects our attention on a day-to-day basis


Overconsumption & health effects

Excessive digital screen use can affect our physical and mental health and cause symptoms like social isolation, anxiety or lack of sleep and posture problems. Excessive sitting has also been connected to eating unhealthier foods. 


Harmful use

How to identify unnecessary consumption? Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones suggested to describe that with a term: “harmful use”. One should ask themselves why, what and when digital media is consumed and whether the activity interrupts intended activities. 


Business models of most media companies rely on gaining more attention from their users. The more attention they get, the more revenue they generate. We looked into how the businesses are built. Popular media and social media companies have developed multiple methods and features with the aim of hooking users to their services to generate more clicks and likes with methods like: 'digital rabbit holes' and 'slot machine effects'.
To address the issues of media overconsumption, policies need to be put in place. To inform evidence-based policies, data and further research are needed. 

attention economy


Interviewing 12 people at the age from 16 to 34 , we Identified 4 personas with different consumption habits and barriers, examining their pain points, attitudes and levels of awareness concerning harmful use.

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Analyzed the key traits from each user and identified what possible solutions are. 


5 harmful consumption behaviours:



Going through a sequence of media and starting from the beginning in hope for new content.


Breaks in concentration

Often caused by notifications.


Compulsive checking

High number of unprompted or unconscious screen unlocks throughout the day.


Lack of presence

Using several screens simultaneously not paying much attention to either, usually a laptop and phone.


Bed time scrolling

The blue light on screens affects our sleep when consuming digital media in bed, increasing the time taken to fall asleep or getting out of bed


Relationships with media 


Media is essential but can get lost in it.


Most used when bored. Time spent online affected offline relationships.


Attempts to reduce media consumption often failed in the long-term.


Dislike for superficial internet identities.

User Needs

• Adopt smart strategies that help them break harmful behavior for media consumption.


• Be able to track and identify harmful behaviors of media consumption.

• Be rewarded for reducing screen time.

User Goals

• Build a healthy relationship with digital devices, and reduce harmful behaviors for media consumption.

• Take control of their time and discipline themselves for excessive screen time. 

• Have  quality time for doing work or hanging out with friends or family.


How might we help young people better control their use of digital devices and increase digital wellness through a data enabled intelligent system?



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nudge strategies
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This is an example of a user who has set up a mode to address their first identified pattern: breaks in concentration. When they next address their lack of presence when using more than one device a preset nudge is suggested to them. Depending on whether the user decides to ignore or address the issue, and how they set up the mode or nudge, the system adapts to learn their digital rhythm and makes smarter suggestions based on what the user considers harmful.

1. Modes

Allow users to control their usage, connected to time, activity and location.

  • Bedtime scrolling

  • Breaks in concentration


2. Nudges

Act as barriers, prompting users to make a conscious decision before carrying out an action to help prevent a habit from forming.

  • Looping

  • Compulsive checking

  • Lack of presence


Analysis phase


The setup of the service includes granting permissions to the necessary data, such as device usage and optionally GPS and calendar data to gain a better understanding of the user's behaviours patterns. The system analysis highlights user patterns that might be excessive with algorithms. The process gives users the agency to decide to address unconscious behaviours and change their habits with detailed information about their consumption, adaptable tools to hack their behaviour and offers support during the process.

Tool suggestions


To help the user address the identified patterns, we created two types of tools addressing different needs. There is a built-in feature that detects which tool is appropriate for each user.


• Modes are settings that help the user reduce harmful behaviour occurring at specific locations and times.


• Nudges help with unconscious behaviours. 

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Take social scroller - Alisa as an example - she is aware of the effect of excessive screen hours on her daily life because it affects her school performance. Then she came across BBC brb on the BBC’s existing platform and downloaded it. She started exploring the system that gives her control by asking her permission to collect data from her digital devices.

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The basic idea of the service split into 4 avenues:


Awareness of own patterns

The user's personal patterns could somehow be made visible by analyzing and visualizing their personal device usage


From unconscious to conscious

Nudge people in positive way and make them aware of building healthy relationship with their phone and lives in the present


Timeframes for digital detox

Features to support goals throughout detox by linking them to offline context to incentivize users to reduce excessive screen usage.


Adjusting to personal digital rhythms

A set of tools that match each pattern and address harmful behaviour


Tracked our own pattern of using digital devices on daily basis and crafted data manually 

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Validated initial concepts, advocating for users.

Phone parking - Group mode

Phone parking - Group mode


We prototyped a focus mode in a group setting  by creating a paper parking lot for a team to place their phones on while doing group work. They were allowed to use their phones only if all agreed to it. We tracked the frequency of breaks and interviewed them after for feedback. 



The method was working, but only for a few hours at a time, so the mode should have a set timeframe when starting. For the first two hours, the mode helped the team to stay more focused.


Puzzle post its - Nudges 


To test if making conscious decisions would help people re-evaluate whether checking their phone frequently is actually necessary, we created a prototype of small puzzles. The puzzles, riddles, math calculations and mazes were stuck as post-it notes on the phone and one needed to be solved to use the phone.  


Some found the tasks too hard, or too much fun and completed all of them, but all in all this method of nudging did result in a reduction of unconscious and unnecessary screen unlocks. 



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Human algorithm - Analysis 


To test our idea of a personal analysis phase we prototyped by asking for users’ phone consumption data (Quality Time app) and information about their daily activities. Then, we analysed this data by algorithms for a week and visualised usage patterns. We showed the participants our findings to see if they would agree with different patterns of usage. 


The participants found the analysis eye- opening and would consider using the service for both nudges and modes. She found the setup phase too front-heavy, which led us to iterate the way data entry and setup works for the users.


Presented at BBC office

Presentation at BBC office

Having learned how media consumption usage affects our life, we pitched our concept to key stakeholders at the BBC. It was an unique experience for me because it allowed me to learn how to communicate my ideas effectively and convince them to take this concept forward.

Research activities

Research activities

Digital wellness is an interesting topic for our team because the thread of media consumption usage can be unconsciously ignored. Our team took different approaches to explore social media designs for capturing attention and hacking a human's brain. This helped us better understand how to tackle this problem by using nudge strategies and prototyping on users and ourselves.


2 Service Designers

1 Product Designer

1 User Researchers


Irene Liao 

Kiran Dulay

Pinja Piipponen

Sujeban Susilakanthan

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