At a recent talk by Frog’s Matthew Sutton, a struggle I’ve been working through was crystallized: how do we mitigate the negative consequences of our solutions?  For Hopelab, the struggle is the total impact of tech on young people. The press vacillates between “love it” and “hate it”, and we seem to be in the “tech is bad” period.  Articles about smartphone addiction and the perils of social media continue to rise, however the academic research is inconclusive. This leaves many confused and curious. Nevertheless, new tech will be built. How might we create it with holistic impact? How might we mitigate the demand for short-term impact?

Examples are emerging on the dangers of short-term thinking.  Facebook seems great on the individual level, but years later Cambridge Analytica scandal appears. AirBNB has made finding the perfect stay in the perfect city easier than ever, but at the cost of throwing wrenches into rental markets. Both are examples of how designing for the individual can go can wonky in the long term. Rob Girling and Emilia Palaveeva’s FastCo article “Beyond the Cult of Human-Centered Design” captures this thinking in the most compelling way.  In it, they coined a new term, humanity-centered design to be equal to human-centered design: a method that looks to human need and to societal need, and an approach that maximizes longer term benefits.

Sutton’s talk and the FastCo article (and do read the article) leave me a little less troubled.  Designing for the health of young people to have both short and long term impact is no small feat.  While the blueprint is blurry, adding design principles that address the duality is a good first step.

 


Related Content

View all Insights
Julie Tinker sits on a couch looking at the camera with her arm propped on up
Health Equity

As we strengthen our systems of equity and accountability within our teams and across our partnerships and products, we can’t think of anyone better to join us at the forefront than Julie to help foster a culture of learning, growth, opportunity, and joy.

Read More
Done right, tech can end the youth mental heath epidemic.
Mental Health

We need to reframe the conversation around technology and mental health into one of increased connection and potential for solutions.

Read More
Designing for teens and young adults.
GenZ

Hopelab recently partnered with The Hive, a Human-Centered Design studio at the Claremont Colleges, to prototype mental health solutions from the perspective of college students themselves. At the end of the project, we connected with young people, to hear about their experiences going through the design process and collaborating with Hopelab on mental health.

Read More
Tennis player Naomi Osaka and gymnast Simone Biles with a blue overlay
Mental Health

The biggest names in sports are saying ‘yes’ to their mental health. Grace Greene and Robin Raskob reflect on the revolution the world needs to see and how we might use their examples of community care and self care to approach mental health and well-being needs differently.

Read More