Simplifying Digital Design for a Healthier Tomorrow

Over the last decade, the way we experience technology has undergone significant changes. We’ve moved from checking emails on a computer’s web browser to receiving email notifications on our smartphones. Instant Messaging communication has also transitioned from chatting on Yahoo Messenger on desktops to conversing with family and friends on Whatsapp groups. Social media apps on smartphones have transformed into instantaneous broadcasts of life experiences. Technology has influenced every aspect, from shopping to education to gaming, marking a remarkable paradigm shift.

The rapid growth of smartphones and advancement in their operating systems has resulted in a surge in apps usage and their dependency. However, some app companies, particularly major organizations, especially those in the social media industry, have misused design principles, User Experience (UX), and even our understanding of human psychology to boost their profits. This issue is predominantly fueled by social media platforms, where people spend a significant portion of their online time. They have extensively studied how our minds work to make their apps addictive. These platforms leverage persuasive design strategies to keep users hooked, using features like likes on posts, pictures, images, comments, stickers, rewards, etc. making users feel good.

Digital addiction is on the rise globally, especially among teenagers. This article delves into the changing landscape of UX design and its role in promoting a healthier and more balanced use of digital technology.The misuse of psychology in design is an unhealthy practice that has contributed to this problem. This article sheds light on how UX design is adapting to create a more balanced digital experience. In simpler terms, we will explore how designers are actively working to make apps and websites less addictive, fostering greater mindfulness of our well-being. It is particularly relevant for college students and daily digital device users, with the aim of contributing to a better digital future

The primary goal of UX evolution is to strike a balance between the usefulness of technology and its impact on mental health. By doing so, users can enjoy the benefits of digital products without falling into the trap of compulsive use. The necessity of UX evolution in curbing digital addiction is a pertinent and current issue. It aligns with the interests of those who are concerned about the impact of technology on mental health and aims to address the challenges posed by addictive design

Breaking the chains of digital addiction is crucial for reimagining the User Experience. The consequences of not doing so include becoming less intentional and deliberate in our digital interactions, leading to concerns such as addiction and a more divided or polarized society. There is a plethora of issues that social media apps and persuasive algorithm designs have permeated in society.

People may favor or disregard you based on your social media likes and posts related to political, religious, and other interests. For instance, your friends and family in your social media network know which political party you are inclined towards. This sometimes creates pro and anti groups, leading to cyberbullying and eventually polarization in society.[1] Instagram also has changed the world in some unexpected ways.[2]

Algorithms push content based on factors such as age, gender, likes, and interests, leading individuals to develop biases toward specific products and services. So-called influencers and content creators often produce content without reliable and trusted sources, and people are falling into their trap or rather say into algorithm trap. For example, these apps will push a homosexual content to check an individual’s interest. If the person engages with that content by watching the video for some time or by liking the post, the apps will subsequently show more similar content to further assess their interest in homosexuality. If the individual continues to engage with the content, the apps will then display regular related content, along with related advertisements and products.[3]

As proven in the past, these tech media giants have demonstrated their influence in aiding political parties to win or lose elections through their power.[4]

You will encounter numerous other examples while using social media apps, content apps, or even Google search, such as the widespread distribution of fake or nonsense stories/posts/reels (Viral content).[5] People often make judgments about a person based on their social media posts, number of likes, and followers. Additionally, you receive advertisements based on your Google searches. These algorithms are everywhere.

These apps are designed to be highly intuitive and addictive to use. They manipulate your brain and even your hormones, yes dopamine hormone. Dopamine acts on areas of the brain to evoke feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. It also plays a role in controlling memory, mood, sleep, learning, concentration, movement, and other bodily functions.[6]

One more aspect contributing to digital addiction is the design of notifications. Elements such as vibrations, buzzing, irregular notifications, or flashing lights and always-on displays on phones and smartwatches, cleverly lure users back into apps for more interaction. The more you use the phone, the more you will use apps. This article encourages a reevaluation of notification design to promote healthier digital habits.

Designing for Freedom — Breaking the Chains of Digital Addiction

To create a better digital future, UX must evolve to meet the changing needs of users. While Tech giants often believe their role is solely to fulfill user requirements, it might be time for a change in perspective. We need a UX world that evolves to shape a better digital future.

This article explores how UX design is evolving to assist people in using digital technology in a healthier and more balanced manner. In simpler terms, we’ll delve into how designers are making apps and websites less addictive and more mindful of our well-being.

Instagram posts without count of likes and comments will not create a sense of competition or comparison among your social network. Instagram has already tested this pilot feature in multiple geographies.[7]

The option to limit or disable comments on YouTube serves as a feature to prevent cyberbullying and social media hate, particularly on popular and trending videos.

WhatsApp Channels with private audiences allow users to follow their interests, celebrities, and political parties in private mode, in contrast to Twitter (now X), where trend wars and polarization can be ignited. In private mode, there is no online abuse, representing a positive shift.[8] Features like YouTube’s dislike button and Instagram not displaying the number of followers for a particular profile are steps in the right direction, fostering a less addictive digital environment.

AI and machine learning should transform the distribution of push notifications to consumers. With advancements in AI and machine learning, notifications can be tailored to individual user preferences, limiting the buzzing of the phone at irregular intervals.

By understanding the necessity of UX evolution in curbing digital addiction, we pave the way for a more mindful and balanced digital future. In conclusion, as we navigate the evolving digital landscape, it is crucial to prioritize a healthy User Experience and breaking the chains of Digital Addiction

Hello Everyone, I’m Nitin Kumar, Product Owner @Accenture with a strong passion for digital products. I have been working in Product Management and Business Analysis for more than ten years.

Feel free to connect for a productive conversation.


[1] Why Social Media Makes Us More Polarized and How to Fix It | Scientific American

[2] 7 Unexpected Ways Instagram Has Changed the World | Social Media Today

[3] TikTok Made Me Gay

[4]Facebook says Russian influence campaign targeted left-wing voters in U.S., UK | Reuters

[5] Viral WhatsApp Messages Are Triggering Mob Killings In India : NPR

[6] Designing a Dopamine-Inducing Mobile App

[7] Instagram will now hide likes in 6 more countries | TechCrunch

[8] Introducing WhatsApp Channels. A Private Way to Follow What Matters

Pressing necessity of UX Evolution in curbing digital addiction was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.