Tackling Problematic Device Usage, Phase One: Design of Campaign Publications to Inform, Engage and Support Teachers, Parents and Family Members in Addressing Problematic Device Usage Behaviours (PDUB) Amongst New Zealand Primary School Children
Problematic device usage behaviour (PDUB) amongst children is a growing concern globally. Psychological research suggests that excessive device usage adversely affect children’s healthy wellbeing, social skills and intellectual development. The digital classroom revolution in New Zealand has unintentionally raised the concerns of primary school parents and teachers regarding increased daily screen-time among students.
As a visual communication designer, I firmly believe that the clear use of visual language would help the public to develop a better understanding of this highly complex global issue. Under the framework practice-led research methodology, this project has focused on developing the concept and visual language that would be suitable for communicating complex and sensitive messages to target audiences effectively. A booklet and a flyer are the research outcomes, in phase one of this campaign. This project was influenced by structuralism, which suggested it is necessary to firstly help audiences to understand the real problem beneath the surface. The Threshold Capabilities Integrated Theoretical Framework (TCITF) provided a logical structure to generate and classify the contents based on psychological studies and would help audiences gradually develop their understanding of the PDUB. With the composition of risk-factor, neutral dialogue, avoiding stigma, limited humour, positive communication and bright tone, this project has established a visual language that could positively communicate the feelings and needs from children to the audiences and call on their empathy. The three theoretical frameworks of Distributive Cognition (DCog), Activity Theory (AT) and Actor-Network Theory (ANT) have provided a rational perspective of how to interpret aesthetic decisions. The illustrated blue penguin characters that have been inspired by anthropomorphism⁹ provide a unique visual presentation which is capable of communicating the sensitive messages.