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Would You Waste Less of Your Life Online If You Got Daily ‘Attention Receipts’?

The experiment found that "the materiality of the receipt improves reflection and therefore influences the quality and quantity of time spent on YouTube."
Would You Waste Less of Your Life Online If You Got Daily ‘Attention Receipts’?
Attention Receipts. Image: Anup Sathya, Ken Nakagaki.

We’ve all been there: It’s time for bed but you sit down to watch just one five-minute YouTube video with a provocative thumbnail, and before you know it it’s 3AM and you’re 40 videos deep into a channel that makes and reviews notable sandwiches throughout history.  

Did I enjoy my time? Yes, clearly. Was it time well spent? My dire sleep deficit probably makes that less certain. 

Two researchers at the University of Chicago came up with a solution they think will help me waste less of my time mindlessly viewing YouTube: a device that dispenses physical “attention receipts” that list exactly how much time you’ve spent watching YouTube videos. 

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