It's Time for a Serious Talk About the Science of Tech "Addiction"

Every media outlet on the planet is churning out stories about how technology is wrecking us. And maybe it is. But the science so far has been kind of shitty. 

People from all backgrounds use technology—and no two people use it exactly the same way. "What that means in practice is that it's really hard to do purely observational research into the effects of something like screen time, or social media use," says MIT social scientist Dean Eckles, who studies how interactive technologies impact society's thoughts and behaviors. You can't just divide participants into, say, those with phones and those without. Instead, researchers have to compare behaviors between participants while accounting for variables like income, race, and parental education.

That said, of course this shit is addictive. It's fucking designed to be

After a few lectures on the basics of behavioral psychology, students began building Facebook apps of their own. They used psychological tools like reciprocity and suggestion to engineer apps that could, for example, send your friends a virtual hug or get your friends to join an online game of dodgeball. At the time, Facebook had just begun promoting third-party apps in its news feed. The iPhone launched in the summer of 2007; the App Store would follow the year later. Fogg’s teachings became a playbook on how to make apps stick just as apps were becoming a thing.


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