As our interactions with each other become increasingly digitally mediated, there is growing interest in the study of people’s digital experiences. To better understand digital experiences, some researchers have proposed the use of screenomes. This involves the collection of sequential high-frequency screenshots to provide detailed objective records of individuals’ interaction with screen devices over time. Despite its usefulness, there remains no readily available tool which researchers can use to run their own screenome studies. To fill this gap, we introduce ScreenLife Capture, a user-friendly and open-source software to collect screenomes from Android smartphones. Using this tool, researchers can set up smartphone screenome studies even with limited programming knowledge and resources. We piloted the tool in an exploratory mixed-method study of 20 college students, collecting over 740,000 screenshots over a two-week period. We found smartphone use to be highly heterogeneous, characterized by threads of experiences. Using in-depth interviews, we also explored the impact that constant background surveillance of smartphone use had on participants. Participants generally had slight psychological discomfort which fades after a few days, would suspend screen recording for activity perceived to be extremely private, and recounted slight changes in behavior. Implications for future research is discussed in the paper.
The paper will be presented on 29th May 2022 in Paris, France.