App stops you over-using Facebook in a very clever new way

Rob Waugh
Could this really cut down Facebook use? (Getty)

When you fail to fasten your seat belt, your car will beep and buzz repeatedly until its sensors know you’ve done it.

Researchers believe this sort of machine annoyance could be the key to getting people to stop using Facebook.

Cornell researchers designed an app which makes phones buzz repeatedly if people exceed a set limit of time on Facebook.

The researchers say that volunteers reduced their Facebook use by 20% – and now hope to make a commercially available video.

Because smartphones already have a vibration feature, the method doesn’t require any additional hardware, making it not only simple but cost-effective, the researchers said.

MORE: New supersonic airliner will fly people round the globe at 1,688mph for the same price as Business Class
MORE: Fund to find Madeleine McCann receives cash boost after parents’ company profits soar

Cornell Tech graduate student Fabian Okeke said, ‘You have cases where a few minutes becomes an hour, because these programs have been designed to keep pulling people back in.

‘So we started thinking about ways we could design different kinds of interventions that could help people focus back on work.’

‘The fact that something as simple as a repeated vibration could help people reduce their usage was pretty powerful.’

‘We’re looking for ways to actually help people achieve whatever goals they set for themselves,” Okeke said.

‘We’re not looking to say, ‘completely stop using Facebook’; we want to give people control to exercise how much they consume digital content.’

—Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK—