By Jamie Busby
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame restricts his children's use of smartphones and TV.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates' children are not allowed to use smartphones or computers after a certain time in the evening. This is, in his own words, so they can get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
When Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and all things "i" was asked how much his kids loved the ipad, he said that his children had never even used one. Furthermore, other technology use at his home was strictly limited.
These are just a few examples but there is a recurring theme; The more successful someone is in the fields of social media and technology, the more they try and safeguard their family from it's effects.
What do they know that we don't?
These giants of industry made a conscious decision to make their creations addictive by design. This makes sense when you want to sell your tech devices or get people to use your social media platform as much as possible.
Addictive behaviour is known to be a major cause of depression and lo and behold, we find ourselves in a pandemic of depression across the board, particularly in younger people.
This is not an baseless claim; studies show a direct correlation between social media use and depression, with rates of depression on the increase and continuing to rise.
The function on your smartphone of pulling down the screen to refresh your social media or news feed was purposely designed to imitate pulling down the handle on a slot machine or one-armed bandit.
The aim was to exploit the same psychological vulnerabilities that can be seen in any compulsive gambler. The basis of this addiction is known as "variable rewards"; when you pull down, you don't know what's coming next. It could be something exciting or something of zero interest. In the case of the gambler, a win or a loss. It becomes a compulsive habit in both cases.
Facebook notification symbols were originally blue. This was in keeping with Facebook's blue colour scheme that we still see to this day.
Designers quickly realised that due to the fact the alerts were blue, they tended to get somewhat lost in the colour scheme and many people didn't even bother to check them. This was no good for a social media site trying to basically get their users hooked and keep them online for as long as possible.
Their solution? They changed the notification colour to red; they not only stood out from the blue colour scheme but red is known as a "trigger" colour, associated as a symbol of alarm.
The result; people started checking them, not just more often, but compulsively.
It's clear that tech and social media giants have an agenda; they use the above and many other psychological techniques to keep people using their products and platforms. Not only that, they have full control over what they show us or allow us to see and how we access it.
That the combination of technology and social media is causing such damage, especially to children and young people, doesn't appear to concern them. It's all about their bottom line and you can bet your bottom dollar Big Pharma are laughing all the way to the bank as well.
They say the proof is in the pudding. In this case, the tech and media moguls seem to live along the lines of a phrase usually reserved for drug dealers; "Don't get high off your own supply".
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11 December 2018
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