Why the habit tracker is bad news for bad habits
Bad habits are bad news, especially when it comes to a lifestyle that’s built on them.
They’re not just about being physically inactive, but about the mental and emotional habits that are often overlooked.
In a study of more than 2,000 US adults, the journal BMC Public Health examined the link between the consumption of bad habits and subsequent weight gain and health issues.
“We found that among those who reported an excessive amount of time on their phones and were on their computers, the frequency of problematic behaviors was increased,” said study lead author Jennifer Fauci, an assistant professor of sociology at New York University.
The research, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, looked at whether the habit of being “on the go” could lead to a high rate of bad habit problems.
“There’s something called the habit-disorder link,” said Fauco.
“It’s not just that you get stuck on the wrong thing to do, or that you don’t think about what’s important and what’s not important.”
For example, if you are eating too much, or don’t exercise regularly, or are binge-eating, there’s a good chance that you’re consuming bad habits.
According to the study, those habits are associated with a number of chronic health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
“The most important thing is to not be in the habit that you are in,” Faucio said.
But the habit can also be a way to make it difficult for yourself.
“You are actually putting yourself at risk for developing problems if you have bad habits.”
Habit monitoring has long been an attempt to make sense of how people use their time.
It’s a concept that Faucs’ study was focused on, but it’s not as well understood as other habit monitoring tools.
For example: how much time do we spend on social media?
How much time are we spending on gaming?
Fauce says it’s time that’s better spent on the right habits.
“If you are looking at what you’re doing, it’s very difficult to identify what the problem is, so you’re more likely to get stuck with the wrong problem,” she said.
And that’s why habit tracking has been criticized for not being transparent.
For one, there are so many variables associated with the habit.
“This is a very nuanced issue and people have different answers to that question,” Fucco said.
For instance, Fauceans study looked at people who were “liking” certain posts and others that they “dislike,” and found that those who were the most active on social platforms were more likely than those who weren’t to be in habit tracking mode.
There was also a lack of transparency in the way that people were tracked.
“People would say, ‘oh, it would be nice to know,’ but the real answer is, no, it doesn’t,” Fuca said.
“How do you know if somebody is on the habit track?”
There are some methods that can help people to see if they’re actually tracking the right behavior.
For starters, Fucce recommends that people use a habit tracker that uses the terms “social media,” “gaming,” and “online browsing” to define what they’re doing.
“When we use these terms, we really get a sense of what our behavior is,” Frucci said.
It also helps to check your behavior in the journal, as well as the habits that you create.
“And it’s always a good idea to see what you are doing on your computer and on the internet,” Faugetti added.
Faucia says that she has seen a significant decrease in the number of people using habit tracking software, but she still uses the service.
“What it comes down to is: How much do I want to know about my behavior and my behavior’s about me?” she said, adding that it can be important to keep track of the things that you enjoy.
“I would never recommend using a habit tracking app unless you have a clear sense of the data that it’s going to produce,” Focco added.