Use of digital self-control tools in higher education – a survey study

Daniel Biedermann, Stella Kister, Jasmin Breitwieser, Joshua Weidlich, Hendrik Drachsler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Distractions are ubiquitous in today’s technology-saturated environments, an issue that significantly impacts learning contexts employing digital technologies and yields detrimental effects on learning. Digital self-control tools, which aim to assist users in their efforts to reduce digital distractions, are numerous and readily available. Despite several dedicated empirical studies focusing on specific tools, there remains a notable lack of information regarding their daily use and helpfulness. Furthermore, the sheer variety of these tools prompts questions about their universal helpfulness and the potential influence of individual differences.
To address these issues, we surveyed a sample of higher-education students, totaling 273 individuals. These students reported on their media use, satisfaction with learning, and experiences with features of digital self-control tools. Our study’s findings indicate a discrepancy in the perception and awareness of these features; those deemed most helpful are among the least known, and conversely, common features are often perceived as unhelpful.
Our research also uncovered a negative correlation between habitual media use and the use of less restrictive features. Another identified issue was constraints on the use of these tools for learning, as platforms often serve dual purposes for both education and entertainment. We delve into these practical problems and propose future research directions to further advance the understanding of digital self-control tools.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sept 2023


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