Screenertia: Understanding “Stickiness” of Media Through Temporal Changes in Screen Use

Miriam Brinberg, Nilam Ram, Jinping Wang, S. Shyam Sundar, James J. Cummings, Leo Yeykelis, Byron Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Descriptions of moment-by-moment changes in attention contribute critical elements to theory and practice about how people process media. We introduce a new concept called screenertia and use new screen-capture methodology to empirically evaluate its occurrence. We unobtrusively obtained 400,000+ screenshots of 30 participants’ laptop screens every 5 seconds for 4 days to examine individuals’ attention to their screens and how the distribution of attention differs across media content. All individuals’ screen segments were best described by a log-normal survival function—evidence of screenertia. Consistent with the literature on uses and gratifications of media, news/entertainment activities were the most “sticky.” These findings indicate that screenertia is not only related to the level of interactivity of media content but is also related to its modality and agency. Discussion of the findings highlights the importance of theorizing, examining, and modeling the specific time scales at which media behaviors manifest and evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-560
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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