1. 22

  2. 7

    This is something that has been concerning me for a while. Tech companies abusing weaknesses in human behaviour to build addictions and shape emotions. One of the best things you can do for yourself is disable all notifications that aren’t urgent for you to act on right now. Stops you getting drawn away from the task you were doing every few minutes

    1. 4

      Agreed, I have turned off as many notifications as I can so my phone never does anything with them. Anything important I push to my watch which just vibrates. To be sure, this is me mostly trying to give the stupid “smart” watch something to do that makes me not regret buying one.

      That and having firewall rules to ban me from browsing the web for a while at a time. Or for the work laptop I use this: https://selfcontrolapp.com

      To keep me from habitually clicking on sites like this one…. at least for a set duration.

      1. 1

        I’ve set facebook.com to localhost in my host files and on my home-run dnsmasq instance. Turns out the other thing I check often is this. I don’t often participate in discussions, almost never post a thing, and have gone to page two once in what I think it’s months. Granted, the site does send me on a lot of wild goose chases, but the content quality is much higher than on Facebook (duh). I still go to Facebook every once in a while to see if my wife posted things, preferably pictures of my kids or dogs or herself (which is stalky, and a whole ’nother can of worms). I could do more complex stuff but I found that this keeps my digital demons at bay, most of the time.

    2. 6

      I think that a big part of the issue is that the screens kids use are primarily consumption devices. I plan on getting my kids a NUC desktop and installing Arch Linux on it, then teaching them how to read the wiki using a console browser and letting them do as they please.

      1. 4

        It’s funny how many people defend such practices, isn’t it?

        While the article focus on children and teens, the same tricks work with adults: they are the preconditions to make behavioural manipulations (aka marketing, ads, fake news, Cambridge Analytica and so on…) work over the web.

        Now, people raised with rich real world relationships, tend to take everything with a grain of salt: the more varied your friends are, the more free is your mind, since you are exposed to different cultures, different beliefs and different values and you are used to accept them as worth existing.

        Kids and teens grown in their rooms and connected to the world through a computer (or smartphone or whatever) will be the perfect slaves of the next generation of elites. They won’t be able to concentrate or to relate with other people, so they will be forced to accept whatever job, whatever product and whatever government the cloud will propose them.

        In the long term, these techniques constitute an evolutionary pressure that could split humanity into a couple of different species.

        It’s not a case they comes from Stanford, that is not just one of the best furnace for the world’s IT industry, but also the Terman’s workplace, where he developed and spread his eugenics theories.

        And it’s not lack of ethics what Fogg does. It’s just a different ethics!
        When you accept the concept that some people are superior to others, the question become how you classify the inferiors, how you cluster them together, how you control them and how you get rid of them when you don’t need them anymore.

        1. 3

          I aspire to handle criticism (and praise) as well as the author. (See the comments below the article.) Well done.

          1. 3

            It is true that some creepy companies like Facebook and EA use psychology to their advantage, but I’m so tired of this moral panic about “omg kids are spending all of their time with screens”.

            I don’t buy the premise that children interacting with their (possibly terrible) family and (probably terrible) school is inherently better than online interaction, just because it’s in-person.

            recent Atlantic article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?,”

            Literally sounds like something generated by the Thinkpiece Bot.

            So anyway, what the tech industry should (be forced to) do:

            • sure, get rid of microtransactions and psychologically targeted notifications and whatever other manipulative stuff, don’t feed YouTube Kids garbage to 5 year olds
            • but also, get rid of creepy parental control garbage!! Parents spying on kids destroys all trust and can take away their only safe space. Parents are not inherently good. Tech can and should offer kids protection from their parents too.
            1. 2

              The underlying problem is that an average young individual has so much free time that they cannot fill it with meaningful activity, the next best thing they have is social media and games.

              Parents are too busy with their lives and never in time they had so much responsibility to be 24 hours available to their children.

              My hope is that people will look for building more local communities where they and their children come together and ease the burden on both on them and their children. A rethought school system or a more organized unschooling culture may provide that.

              1. 3

                I disagree - I had oodles of free time as a king and spent it playing outside with other kids or reading books.

              2. 2

                I remember that I absolutely loved games, the internet, and physical toys when I was younger. My friends all felt the same way. Video games were all we talked about at lunch because the only other thing in our lives were school or (for some people) sports. Recess was fifteen minutes at the most, sometimes being an optional part of a half hour lunch period. It was never convenient to invite friends over to play. Video games were really the only thing kids were allowed to do on their own besides drawing or legos.

                I remember that I was always made to do my homework before being allowed to play, even if that meant doing homework until after bedtime, and being forced to bed straight after. When I got older, around early middle school, I was allowed to make my own schedule, which was much better, but I always did my homework. If getting homework done is an issue, it’s not addiction. It’s poor time management.

                There were out-of-control children back when I was younger, but there weren’t smartphones back then.

                There was one time when my mom took away screen time privileges. I was sad about it. I mostly just played legos. I still ignored my mother for the most part, but I sometimes offered to play a board game with her. About nine out of ten times, she said she was too busy, so I suppose she didn’t care about family time either.

                I should stop rambling about my past. Anyway, my opinion is that people are better off with smartphones. Some idiots will manage to misuse them, but those idiots will misuse everything when they have the chance. Fortunately, Being an adult gives me enough freedom and spending money so that I don’t need to distract myself with my phone if I don’t want to.

                1. 5

                  Your story about screen time reminds me of when my parents stopped me from using a computer until I did all my homework. 200+ books later and a solid F- in all my classes, my parents gave up.

                  1. 4

                    I should strive to be as stubborn as you.

                    1. 1

                      My parents encouraged me to play more outdoors once by disabling the PSU on the 286 I had in my room and having tight control over the family 386.

                      I was recentful as fuck while reading books and drawing game designs in a notebook under a tree, waking up early to sneak some gaming on the 386 and doing my best to watch as much TV as possible.

                      Say what you want about TV, it wasn’t The Real Housewives of New Jersey we had back then. Anyway, affecting a child’s fundamental personality is hard and the only thing to hope and strive for is that the nerdy traits don’t get mis-channeled to Farmville.

                      Edit: at least they did it out of love and saw it failed.