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Science and Technology

Addictive Technology

Psychologists help tech companies "brain hack"

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WHAT IT IS

  • The increased presence of technology in everyday life has many wondering about the influence on humans.

  • New research has identified a modern phobia called "nomophobia", or the fear, stress, anxiety of being without your phone. [The Guardian

  • Some argue social media companies and tech giants like Apple have designed their digital products to encourage this stress and potential addiction. [The Atlantic]

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  • The practice of companies purposeful design to hook consumers to products is called “brain hacking" and has been proven to affect user’s health. [Inc.]
  • Technology start-ups like Dopamine Labs are at the heart of the addiction. [TIME]
  • Dopamine Labs produced code for their software AI Skinner that they claim will make any app more addictive. [Tech Crunch]
  • The lab markets this to technology companies, saying the addictive code will make the app company more money.
  • Dopamine Labs has also created a program called Space that mutes notifications to curb app usage. [Tech Crunch]

WHY IT MATTERS

 

CIVICS: "The technology industry has largely developed free from any significant federal regulation..." [Congressional Research Service]

 

Some tech CEOs have publically pleaded to the federal government to, "please regulate us." [The Wall Street Journal]

 

SOCIAL: Anxieties about our world’s digital dependency are no new issue. Yet, programmers, developers, and users are questioning the intentions of the companies behind our smartphones and websites. Many are asking, “How much is too much?”

IT'S AN ISSUE!

Diagnosis dictionary

The addictive use of smartphone has garnered new terms that describe our smartphone usages such as nomophobia and phubbing. [Scientific American], [TIME]

 

Some say they are addicted to their smartphones or to social media.  [NPR]

 

 

A vicious cycle

Larry Rosen, a psychologist working at California State University found that being away from your phone triggers a flight-or-fight response. High amounts of phone usage fueling that stress or anxiety. [Psychology Today]

 

 

Mind hacking

The addictive use of smartphones and apps can affect anybody, but studies have shown that young adults who clock in more hours on social media are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. [Health Magazine

IT'S FINE!

Back to basics

At its core, social media and smartphones aim to keep people connected and help keep family and friends together, as well as give access to information that allows users to stay more in touch with events.

 

 

Seniors scrolling

A study conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that senior citizens who used social media experienced reduced social isolation which can harbor chronic pain. [Reuters], [University of Michigan]

 

 

Control is key

An observational study from researchers at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa found that setting guidelines to limit a child’s screen time to no more than two hours boosts brain power. [9News

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • Oct. 11, 2018: Simon Stevens of the National Health Service of England (NHS), called for social media companies to help fund public mental health services, which he calls a “mental health levy.” [The Institute of Engineering and Technology 

  • MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle compared the growing psychological dependence on smartphones to the obesity epidemic. [Business Insider

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Take the 20-question questionnaire developed by psychologists at Iowa State University. 
  • How much of a role do you think social media companies should have in curbing internet addiction?
  • Watch the 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper and Dopamine Labs here.
  • Read more on how to detox from your smartphone.
Key Vocabulary