Reflective Interfaces: Assisting Teens with Stressful Situations Online

Jones, B. "Reflective Interfaces: Assisting Teens with Stressful Situations Online"


This thesis presents the concept of Reflective Interfaces, a novel approach to user experience design that promotes positive behavioral norms. Traditional interface design methodologies such as User Centered Design are oriented towards efficient satisfaction of short-term interface goals, but may not serve the best interests of the user in the long term. Reflective Interfaces encourage the user to think about the space of possible choices they can make, reasons for making those choices, and consequences of their interactions for themselves and others.

The problem of Cyberbullying is a serious problem, threatening the viability of social networks for youth today, as spam once threatened email in the early days of the Internet. We explore the design of several Reflective Interfaces for helping teens in distress over social network interactions.

First, we implemented a fictitious, but fully functional social network, Fakebook, that provides just-in-time and just-in-place help when potentially bullying interactions are detected. Laboratory tests of the Fakebook interface showed encouraging results. Second, we collaborated with MTV on their site, A Thin Line, which finds stories analogous to a users' particular situation and helps reduce feelings of isolation. We are also working on TimeOut, a dashboard for social network providers that alerts them to situations where outbreaks of bullying might escalate in a community.

By putting users in a reflective state, Reflective Interfaces can help them self-correct toward an implicit goal of the community, the interface, the application, or reaffirm the user's own stated goals. These principles can be applied across a wide variety of interfaces for social interaction and other domains.

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