Collective Play Versus Excessive Use: an Insight into Family-Focused Design Intervention for Mobile Phone Overuse

Benny Ding Leong, Brian Yu Hin Lee, Kenny Ka Nin Chow

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid growth in the usage of mobile and screen-based products and the corresponding addiction of adolescents to such devices continue to cause great concerns among different stakeholders. Family, as a potential psychosocial support for reducing the likelihood of addiction development, can be weakened as a result of the deterioration of parent-adolescent relationships associated with mobile devices overuse. Based on the family functioning and gamification-enhanced concepts, positive and fun interactions between family members can be a vital component in fostering a supportive relationship. An innovative and alternative family-focused intervention strategy, the interactive play platform named “Lamb Lamp,” has been developed to facilitate fun and pleasurable parent-adolescent interactivities. The design aims to divert family members’ attention away from their phones, while facilitating joyful and cheerful engagements for the whole family, with the ultimate aim of fostering the development of a supportive relationship. This paper reports the initial results of a pilot study on 5 families recruited at a community-based treatment center, with at least one child aged between 12 and 19 who exhibited excessive Internet or mobile phone use problems. Daily patterns related to the adolescents’ Internet and mobile use and personal reflections on the perceptions of family interrelationships were recorded through lifestyle probes—a set of self-reporting home assignments—before the placement of the Lamb Lamp. Semi-structured interviews were conducted after the intervention to further solicit feedback from the families. The findings were then summarized and verified by parents and the counselors of the families engaged. Although the feedback collected from the families did not indicate an obvious reduction in mobile use behavior, they confirmed the benefits of this gamification-enhanced intervention in a family context. Collective play not only stimulated emotional connectivity between parents and adolescents, but also encouraged them to relive joyful memories of family activities while dealing with the problem of excessive mobile use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1404-1419
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Design intervention
  • Family functioning
  • Gamification
  • Mobile phone overuse
  • Parent-adolescent relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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