Mapping and Measuring Technology Interactions Associated with Harm

David Ellis, Danaë Stanton-Fraser, Othman Esoul – University of Bath

The act of engaging with digital services and devices is often considered a sub-component of online harm. Specifically, a considerable body of work has observed associations between being regularly online and a variety of negative outcomes including depression, anxiety, sleep, and cognitive impairments. However, while the psychological components are well-defined, the interactions with technology that directly lead to harm are unclear and, as with online harm more generally, suffer from a variety of measurement inconsistencies.

While there is very little understanding of how general usage alone might cause psychological distress, all digital harms are likely to be aligned with different technology interactions. For example, engaging with social interactions is vastly different to passively viewing content. Similar dichotomies equally apply to creating harmful content (e.g., writing a tweet) is different from simply sharing an endorsement or viewing such material. Therefore, this project will build on the taxonomy of harms to qualitatively define and quantitatively measure behavioural interactions as they relate to psychological harms. This will, in turn, act as a first step to help define and quantify online harm in other contexts by combining principles from psychological science, data visualisation and human-computer interaction.