Wow!! I have been researching this stuff for years, but am still amazed at the info I learn.
What none of these parents understand is that their children’s and teens’ destructive obsession with technology is the predictable consequence of a virtually unrecognized merger between the tech industry and psychology. This alliance pairs the consumer tech industry’s immense wealth with the most sophisticated psychological research, making it possible to develop social media, video games, and phones with drug-like power to seduce young users.
These parents have no idea that lurking behind their kids’ screens and phones are a multitude of psychologists, neuroscientists, and social science experts who use their knowledge of psychological vulnerabilities to devise products that capture kids’ attention for the sake of industry profit. What these parents and most of the world have yet to grasp is that psychology — a discipline that we associate with healing — is now being used as a weapon against children…The parents I work with simply have no idea about the immense amount of financial and psychological firepower aimed at their children to keep them playing video games “forever”…Put plainly, the science of psychology is hurting kids more than helping them.
Freed quotes Tristan Harris saying “Never before in history have basically 50 mostly men, mostly 20-35, mostly white engineer designer types within 50 miles of where we are right now [Silicon Valley] had control of what a billion people think and do.”
These designers are “brain hacking”, not just our kids, but adults too. Many UX designers are utilizing what is called Persuasive technology with the help of psychologists and neuroscientists. Again quoting from Freed’s article “The Tech Industry’s War on Kids”
In the Venice region of Los Angeles, now dubbed “Silicon Beach,” the startup Dopamine Labs boasts about its use of persuasive techniques to increase profits: “Connect your app to our Persuasive AI [Artificial Intelligence] and lift your engagement and revenue up to 30% by giving your users our perfect bursts of dopamine,” and “A burst of Dopamine doesn’t just feel good: it’s proven to re-wire user behavior and habits.”
Ramsay Brown, the founder of Dopamine Labs, says in a KQED Sciencearticle, “We have now developed a rigorous technology of the human mind, and that is both exciting and terrifying. We have the ability to twiddle some knobs in a machine learning dashboard we build, and around the world hundreds of thousands of people are going to quietly change their behavior in ways that, unbeknownst to them, feel second-nature but are really by design.” Programmers call this “brain hacking,” as it compels users to spend more time on sites even though they mistakenly believe it’s strictly due to their own conscious choices.
I HIGHLY recommend reading Freed’s article in it’s entirety!! It’s a fascinating and infuriating read. There is enough info to, hopefully, propel you to take action to protect your kids from this “Persuasive Design” that is used to keep people, children, in the bondage of addiction. It is documented that these designers are using their knowledge of addiction and how the human brain works to ensure we stay on and keep coming back.
Video Game RULES!!!
This Fortnite thing though!!
So what is a parent to do?
Well, a Hammer is an option!!
If you don’t want to be as drastic as taking a hammer to all your electronics, here are some things I recommend:
- First start by observing your own digital habits. If you are spending too much time on your phone/computer/TV, you will need to seriously curb your own habits. Kids are smart. They will see you over using your digital devices and wonder why it’s OK for you and not them. Parents ARE NOT immune from screen addiction!!!
- If your kids don’t have an interest DON’T START them on screen/video games.
- KNOW your kids temperament!! Certain temperaments will need more strict rules or just not play AT ALL!!!
- Make sure they have a love for other things: outside play, sports, nature, biking, etc. BEFORE you EVER let them play video games.
- Find friends that don’t play video games or have similar STRICT rules. (This is a HARD one. Even if your kids have friends that will play things other than video games with your children, I have found that the kids that play video games more than my kids can’t seem to talk about other things when they are over!!! Most conversations will revolve around video games they play) This has always ended up making my kids feel left out and “different”.
- Don’t be afraid to JUST SAY NO to video games ALL TOGETHER!!!
- Once they start playing video games if you see their love for other things fade, detox them from screens immediately!!!
- Seriously LIMIT video game time. I suggest Fridays after dinner and only after all duties are completed, Saturday and Sunday only after morning duties are complete and not near dinner time when this will interfere with dinner chores.
- I also don’t recommend letting kids play video games before church on Sunday’s. I think this just sets a stage for them to be thinking about the games during the church when they should be meditating on our Lord.
- Don’t let them play for more than 20-30 minutes on the days they are allowed to play.
- Purchase an egg timer and MAKE THEM USE IT!!!
- DO NOT let them combine times. If you have two kids that want to play together, they start at the same time and end when the 30 minute timer goes off.
- Have some system where they MUST earn/purchase video game time. I am a little partial as the inventor, but I HIGHLY recommend The Virtue Reward Program!!
- If they throw a fit when they have to stop playing TAKE VIDEO GAMES AWAY for, at least 3 weeks (4 is best) to give the brain a chance to detox and reset.
- If they nag you to play, set a rule…nag about video games…loose video games for 3 days or the upcoming weekend.
- If you are like me…spread thin and a, not so great, short term memory from homeschooling, running a home with 6 children, etc. Put up a white board where you will write down who is grounded from video games, for how long and what reason. (In fact, write all your rules, consequences down. I forget so much with managing lots of kids)
- Type up ALL these rules on a piece of paper, print them and HANG them up!