What are Persuasive Technologies and How to Overcome Them

Have you ever looked up from scrolling on your phone and realized an hour has gone by? That hour you set aside for homework unintentionally getting taken over by watching Tik Tok videos. This scenario might feel all too real to you, and for a lot of students at Ohio State.

We use technology to connect with others, complete our academics and work assignments, and stream, play, listen and scroll for hours a day.

With such a great need for technology in our day to day lives, it can very easily feel like we are not in control of our usage. Rather than us using technology as a tool to benefit our personal and professional goals, it can feel like technology is in control of us. If you have ever thought this, your suspicions are absolutely correct.

Tech companies have strategically designed their products with persuasive technologies to keep us on their platforms for longer.

Persuasive technology is broadly defined by Wikipedia as, “technology that is designed to change attitudes or behaviors of the users through persuasion and social influence, but not necessarily through coercion.”

This means that platforms like social media, streaming services and apps are built with persuasive technology specifically designed to change users’ behaviors to meet the platform’s goals. These unique triggers use persuasion to get us to spend more time clicking, scrolling and ultimately using their product.

To improve our relationship with technology and our overall digital wellness, we need to find balance with our usage. Increasing our awareness of persuasive technologies and how they work can help us to identify tools to set up helpful boundaries to combat their influence.

The good news is that a lot of these features can be adjusted or turned off completely. Below you will find some examples of persuasive technologies and how to overcome them:

  • Red Dot Notifications – that little red notification at the corner of your app is strategically designed to grab your attention. Studies show that the color red triggers our brain to think there is a sense of urgency, in these cases clicking into the app and seeing what the notification is.
    • In your app settings you can remove the notification badge. Once you remove the badge, little red dots will no longer be all over your screen reducing the temptation to click into apps.
  • Push notifications like vibrations, buzzing, flashing.
    • Intentionally set your notifications based on your needs. Go through your apps and determine if you really need to be receiving push notifications from all of them. The more you limit, the less tempted you will be to pick up your phone at every buzz or beep.
  • Likes/Comments – feeding into our need for connections and rewards, we are motivated by what others think about us
    • Likes and comments play into our natural social instincts. By turning off comments we can reduce our motivation for external gratification and pressures to hit streaks and receive record likes from our peers.
  • Infinite Scroll – the never-ending supply of content online that automatically loads to keep us engaged.
    • Set up timers to limit the amount of time you spend on your favorite apps. In your app settings on your phone you can manage timers and set limits that work better for your lifestyle.
    • Similarly, on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you can turn off autoplay. Autoplay is when the next episode automatically starts. If you find yourself stuck in front of the tv, turn autoplay off in our profile settings.

Spending a few minutes to tailor your devices and apps to your needs can help you gain back your attention, time, and overall make your devices work smarter for you.

If you are in need of support as it relates to your tech usage, check out the many helping resources on campus:

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


Persuasive Technology (humanetech.com)

5 Tips for Navigating Studying in the Digital Era 

It seems like in today’s world everything revolves around technology in some way or another. One area that has been completely revamped is the academic field. In the last few years, students have had to completely rethink the way they go about their academics due to online classes and zoom meetings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Reliance on technology for studying can come with many unwanted distractions, so make sure to check out these five simple tips for improving your digital wellness.  

First off, do your best to remove all unnecessary devices from your study space.  

Research shows that even if you resist the temptation to check your phone, the thought alone that a notification might come in can lower your productivity. Putting your phone somewhere out of reach is the best way to ensure that it will not be a distraction.  

Completely removing your cellphone is certainly no easy task. If you are struggling with the idea, make sure to put your phone on silent and do not disturb mode. This will make sure that you will not be tempted to check your phone after hearing a notification come in.  

Looking at your phone for even a split second could be harmful to your productivity. Studies have found that after picking up your phone the first time, you have a 50 percent chance of picking it up again within the new few minutes. Try only checking your phone during designated breaks.  

That brings us to the next tip, creating a study schedule. Designating time for active studying and separate time for taking breaks will make sure you stay on track.  

One study schedule to try the Pomodoro study method. This method consists of choosing a total amount of time that you want to dedicate to studying and then breaking that time down into separate Pomodoro sessions. Each Pomodoro will consist of actively studying for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. After completing 4 Pomodoro sessions, give yourself a longer break of about 20-30 minutes.  

Along with following a set study schedule, ensuring that your study space is well organized can be crucial to staying productive. One tip for setting up your space is to use the CLEAR method. 

  1. Step one is to clear your desk of anything that you will not need while studying.  
  2. Step two is lifting your computer up to avoid tension.  
  3. Step three involves eliminating all distractions.  
  4. Step four is to activate one designated study space in your living area. 
  5. Step five is refreshing your study space by adding a natural element such as a plant.  

Are you finding yourself getting tired of your current study space? Switch it up! Studying in the same spot everyday can get tiring fast so make sure to explore all the different study spaces Ohio State has to offer.  

Finally, remember that not everything about electronics is harmful to a productive study session. There are so many ways to put those electronics to good use! Take some time to explore the thousands of studying apps that exist, check out online planners and calendars that can help you stay organized and on schedule, and find ways to connect with others on Zoom for digital study sessions.  


-Kayla Miedrzynski, Body Project Student Assistant


Time management as a graduate or professional student: Tips for developing a personalized work plan 

Start out by giving yourself grace. 

Time management can be tricky, especially if you are balancing multiple responsibilities such as school, work, family, your social life, physical and mental health, and more. There will be good days and bad days – and that’s okay! 

If you find yourself struggling with time management and procrastination, you are not alone, and there are strategies you can implement to improve your habits. 

Reminder: Your self-worth is not determined by your productivity.  

Take inventory of your current time management habits. 

Spend a week or two tracking how you spend your time. 

Do you have any frequent “time-wasters” like social media that can be cut down? 

Are there certain times of the day when you feel more productive or find it easier to focus? 

This may be more challenging depending on how flexible – or inflexible – your schedule is, but it can help to try to plan your day around the times when you feel most productive. 

Break larger projects down into smaller, more manageable tasks. 

Create a timeline for when you want each task to be completed. 

Make sure this timeline is realistic, reasonable, and fits well with the final deadline for the project. Be sure to give yourself at least a slight buffer. 

Set goals for yourself. 

What motivates you? 

What do you need in order to accomplish your goals? For example, do you need extra feedback and support from a supervisor, coworker, or classmate in order to complete a project or assignment? Reach out for help and support when you need it! 

Organize your to-do list in a way that matches your working style – but leave room for flexibility. 

Be sure to set priorities for your different tasks and projects, keeping in mind deadlines and the amount of time you will need to complete a task. For example, do you like to start out your day with smaller tasks first, or would you prefer to work on a larger project? What needs to be done immediately and what can wait? 

Find a scheduling or time management tool that works well for you. 

Time management is not one-size-fits-all, and you may need to adapt your strategies over time if something that previously worked no longer seems like a good fit. 

Examples of time management tools include planners, calendars, and to-do lists. 

There are also a variety of free time tracking resources such as Toggl and MyHours. If you like the pomodoro method, check out Tomato Timer. 

Block out time to work on tasks and stick to your routine as much as possible. 

Track how much time you are spending on each project. This can help you improve your planning. 

Implement time limits for tasks. Time limits can be helpful if you struggle with perfectionism and find yourself spending time frequently second-guessing or repeatedly reviewing your work before submitting it. 

Online calendars such as those built into Outlook and Gmail make it easy to plan out time for studying and projects – especially if you already use them to schedule work and class meetings. 

Make time for self-care. 

Take breaks throughout the day as you are studying and working. Don’t forget to eat – food is fuel! Giving yourself time to rest and recharge can help your health and wellbeing and enhance your productivity. You can’t pour from an empty cup! 

Plan out time to spend with your friends, family, and significant others. It can be easy to isolate ourselves when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but your social wellness is important! Even if it is just a quick phone call to a loved one, try to make time for connection in your life in whatever way you can. 

Incorporate healthy sleep habits into your daily routine. 

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments! Even if something may feel “small”, it’s okay to be proud of yourself and reward yourself! 

Reminder: self-care isn’t selfish 


Check out the Dennis Learning Center for more information and resources on time management: https://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/time-management-get-started/ 

Ohio State Wooster has compiled a helpful time management worksheet with more tips and tools: https://ati.osu.edu/sites/ati/files/site-library/site-images/Time%20Management%20%20.pdf 

OUAB offers a variety of grad/prof events and workshops covering topics such as time management: https://ouab.osu.edu/grad-prof 

The following resources provide time management tips and tools for individuals who are neurodiverse: 

At the Student Life Student Wellness Center there are several 1-1 resources available for goal setting, peer support, and connection to resources. Schedule a free Wellness Coaching appointment today or call the Buckeye Peer Access Line (PAL) at 614-514-3333 on weekdays from 8pm-midnight for support. 

-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant