ENDLESS SCROLL.  A breakthrough in the user experience has become a vicious circle

ENDLESS SCROLL. A breakthrough in the user experience has become a vicious circle

Watch an episode on Netflix and start the next one immediately, scroll down on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook and discover unlimited content.

What we, digital users, experience on a daily basis has a name: Infinite Scroll. “It is a design of sites and applications implemented to capture the user’s greatest attention, based on the sequential generation of content, dragging it across the screen, permanently, without prevent them from appearing”, explains Pedro Damián Orden, specialist in technology and president of the Association of Sociologists of the Province of Buenos Aires–. A characteristic phenomenon of our time is the constant production of digital information and stimuli. In this context, the attention of people has become an essential asset for the economic model of the digital ecosystem. The common belief behind this field is that the more time people spend on a platform, the greater the amount of goods and services consumed there. This dynamic could be compared to the spatial design of a shopping center, circular, without windows, where all the interactions occur within the same structure. So much so that companies base part of their developments on innovative means, capable of capturing the eyes and interest of users for as long as possible, and the infinite scroll is one of them”.

In practice, users find it convenient because they can seamlessly scroll through posts or articles, instead of clicking through pages, but the problem is when the person gets stuck on that site or app much longer than intended. Infinite scrolling allows users to consume a digital service without realizing how much they have already consumed.

Initially intended to be a breakthrough in user experience, it grew into an addictive feature that dramatically increased user engagement. Its key is, according to Orden, that it is precisely designed to operate primarily on users, at a subconscious level, through an instantaneous stimulus-response pattern, which invites persistence of an action, such as staying long. on a given platform. . “As in other areas of life, when we interact with platforms, we must behave rationally and autonomously, knowing that our time is very important and that by going digital, we divert attention from other problems of life”, recommends the interviewee.

The clock is an important clue that users should know if they enter the infinite scroll circle. The time invested plus the consumption of content without apparent meaning is enough to ask us if we really want to continue doing the same thing, or if we prefer to spend our time in another application or do something else.

To alleviate the effects of infinite scrolling, app developers have released some tools. For example, Tamar Colodenco, public policy and government affairs manager for Google in the Southern Cone, describes a series of options available on devices with the Android operating system that avoid the infinite scroll effect.

“With the tool Digital well-being users access the control panel of their applications to find out how many hours each has been used, which ones send them the most notifications and even how often the user unlocks their phone. If users want to impose a certain time limit for using certain apps or websites, they have the option to set daily timers. When the time is up, the app or website is paused for the rest of the day.”

On the other hand, from Spotify they comment: “When configuring the option of auto playWhen you reach the end of an album, playlist, or selection of songs, Spotify automatically plays similar songs so the music doesn’t stop. This option can be disabled from Options”.

In Meta (ie Facebook) they report that the social network has the function Your time on Facebook, located in the main app settings menu. In addition to showing the person their activity in the app, it allows, among other things, to see how many hours a day they spend there. Perhaps because the one who does not know is like the one who does not see.

For its part, on Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, there is a function that shows a notification when we reach the configured time to spend in this application. Its new feature, Take a Break, displays full-screen reminders to quit the app and includes 10-minute intervals.

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