Using Browser Data to Understand Desires to Spend Time Online


There is growing recognition that many people feel the need to regulate their use of the internet and other digital technologies to support their wellbeing. In this study, we used Mozilla Firefox browser telemetry to investigate the role played by various usage factors in desires to regulate time spent online. In particular, we investigated how six metrics pertaining to time spent on the internet, and the diversity and intensity of use, predict participants’ (n = 8,094) desires to spend more or less time online. Across all six metrics, we did not find evidence for a relationship between browser usage metrics and participants wanting to spend more or less time online. This finding was robust across various analytical pathways. The study highlights a number of considerations and concerns that need to be addressed in future industry-academia collaborations that draw on trace data or usage telemetry.

Technology, Mind, and Behavior