Mindful Messaging Blog #4

I

My previous blog post discussed the qualitative data retrieved from Mindful Messaging. I attempted to analyze the shifts in usage of its compose message function and discuss the potential processes behind message editing. The data collected was small but hopeful – many users used the compose message function, drafted texts, and edited them or chose not to send them. I also discussed the motivated responses users had when asked to reflect on the part of their lives in which they most desired to increase mindfulness. So we found it surprising that users did not use the Compose Message function more often.

We came to the conclusion that many people have their phones set as not to receive notifications from their apps. Furthermore, the only way to access the message composition function is by opening the app. In order to catch users at the moment of impulsivity, we need the Compose Message tool to be more accessible. We are currently looking into creating a text messaging app so that users will be able send a Mindful text as quickly as they would a normal text.

Through the analytics service, Mixpanel, I have gained some insights on usage. The past month can be used as an example. There was a steady decrease from compose, redraft, and send, as was predicted. This data shows that most people decided to edit their messages, either its content or tone, in order to have a more effective text message. Only ⅓ of the original number of composed texts were sent – contrasting with the data I analyzed in my last post, in which users more often than not sent a message after the drafting process. Indeed this is a completely different batch of participants. In March, we saw 21 new participants begin using the app.

Approximately 70 people have used Mindful Messaging since our launch in November. In February and March we see some of the highest number and frequency of users pressing the “Let’s Begin” button –

  • Each of the 36 users visiting the app (21 of which were new) pressed “Let’s Begin” an average of 8 times throughout the month (December saw the highest at 12 times with 29 unique users)

  • The “Let’s Begin Button” was pressed 283 times in March, increasing 99.3% percent from February.

  • In March, 113 new messages were drafted and only 57 of them were sent.

  • In December, 112 new messages were drafted and 85 of them were sent.

 

The batch of participants using the app really makes a difference in our statistics. This is illustrated by the steady changes in statistics from month to month. The best comparison to illustrate this is December and March because coincidentally 29 users began the app in each month. In December, 17 unique users drafted 112 new messages and 85 of them were sent. In March, 12 unique users drafted 113 new messages and only 57 of them were sent. An explanation for this could be that by March, the app developed a steady group of participants who used the app, long after the 21 days, to revisit lessons and use the “Compose Message” tool. These veteran Mindful Messengers may have been more likely to use the app to draft more texts and send less of them than the less experienced users in December.

II

When users complete Mindful Messaging, they are asked to complete a follow-up survey which is almost identical to the one given prior to using the app. The survey consists of a number of established measures with high validities we believe relate to texting behaviors. We look to find correlations between measures assessing: attachment style, emotional regulation, risky texting behaviors, and mindfulness, to name a few, with texting behaviors. In addition to these measures, we ask follow-up questions about the app. Here, I will take a close look at some of the preliminary data gathered from 15 users who began using the app between February 20th and 29th.

We asked users what their biggest challenge was using Mindful Messaging. At least two or more users mentioned each of the following: not getting alerts about the Night Reflection, not remembering to use the Compose Message tool, finding the meditations repetitive, and difficulty keeping up with using it everyday (which was mentioned by 5 users).

“The biggest challenge is trying to pause and think about my text before sending it. Texting allows me to send a message quickly, but when I have to pause to think about it, it seems so counter-intuitive and I find it hard to stop.” This response illustrates a conflict that is probably challenging for many users. People are drawn to this app because they want to increase intentionality in their texting behavior, but part of texting’s lure is its instantaneous nature. And users may feel pressured by their peers’ texting styles, finding it hard to text less instantaneously, less often, or whatever change it may be. Users may also view practicing mindfulness in texting as a black and white endeavour, feeling discouraged when they cannot always use the Compose Message tool, or when intimidated by the length of each lesson. Maybe part of this issue with speed in sending texts, as mentioned above, simply has to do with the inconvenience of having to go through the app in order to send a mindful text. The Compose Message tool may simply be inefficient, considering many people can check the weather by clicking on an icon. Another user suggested a separate app to replace their phone’s current texting function.

In response to being asked what changes would better the app, a few requested an option for longer meditations, lesson length options, and more varied guided meditations and practices. If the first two ideas are implemented, the app would be more appealing for a wider range of users. I would imagine an app which is not structured enough would not make a good practice for mindfulness, but at the same time the structure of this app is not written in stone. One user commented, “maybe some sort of maintenance plan for after you finish the 21 days.  Structure would help me continue easier.” This user commented that the Night Reflections and Practices became repetitive doing them every day. Although potentially more avid than most, this user brings up a good issue with the structure of the app. In anticipation of users like this, we could implement additional alert functions for the messaging tool and meditations and, in future versions of Mindful Messaging, including a wider variety of meditations and practices.

Although many participants indicated they felt they did not use the app enough or did not have the patience to compose mindful messages, their responses to another question is highly positive and in a way contradictory. When asked in what way they found the app helpful, users’ responses varied from being more aware of others’ technology use to “helping me put away my phone through boredom.  Not turn to social media for a lift. Helping me with putting my phone away during projects. Turning my phone all the way off at night.” Some users even noted that it helped them in their close relationships – one user reported reducing instantaneous venting and another reduced their use of profanities. Yet another reported being more aware of his/her general technology use. With each of the 15 users indicating personally specific changes in behavior, I find this preliminary self-report data successful. As noted earlier, these highly self-aware and introspective responses seem to contrast with users’ views on their persistency using the app. It could be that users are not completely aware of their progress. But given the app encourages users to think about how their behaviors have changed over the course of the 21 days, I find it more likely that they have a high standard for themselves in increasing mindfulness. In assessing future data we will look deeper into the comments and concerns voiced by this group, finding patterns, and getting a better idea on how to make the app more useful.

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