The Science behind Technology Addiction

Posted on October 25, 2018

Health professionals, parents and teachers are annoyed about their children’s addiction to video games, phones and social media. The reason behind their addiction is largely caused by the design of these gaming apps apps, entertainment sources and technological devices, called the persuasive design.

Persuasive design is merging technology advancement and various psychological aspects to alter people’s behavior. Technological devices and entertainment apps are created by psychologists and other user experience (UX) researchers who apply behavioral change tactics to manipulate users. Apart from the scary truth behind this, these tactics can be used to facilitate positive behaviors like exercising, quitting smoking habits and healthy eating.

The use of persuasive design has been on a rise. It is being used in video games and social media sites to attract users and keep them addicted to spike revenues. While persuasive design is used in technology, the influence it has on one’s behavior is mainly obtained from psychology.

Persuasive design functions by creating digital environments that draws people in to satisfy their basic human needs, either to be social or achieving certain goals which are more attractive than the reality. Some tactics used as part of persuasive design include variable rewards, as video games and social media apps are designed to function like slot machines.

People of all ages can be easily addicted to persuasive design. Adults are probably able to control themselves better and stay away from their phones whereas the same cannot be said for teenagers and children. Teenagers and children are more susceptible to persuasive design as their brains are still developing and are unable to control their impulses well. Hence, social media and video game creators often tap on children’s developmental susceptibility to the common worries they have like their magnified desire for social recognition and fear of social isolation and rejection. These are common aspects which are closely related to their psychological growth. Rather than trying to avoid touching these problems, they see it as a good opportunity to take advantage of these as influences of behavioral design.

Persuasive deign can have highly negative effects on one’s childhood as the technological products are designed to be so irresistible that they take over one’s view of the real world, creating a different sense of reality for them.

The use of psychological manipulation techniques in persuasive design, adds to overwhelming stress in families and places children in a dangerous position. Addiction can be compulsive and develop into something more severe. Research has shown that the more time people spend on their phones and social media, the more susceptible they are to depression and having suicide-related behaviors. Children’s lives are warped and dangerous due to their reluctance to carry out certain important developmental activities in their lives like spending time with their family. Spending too much time on the phone also heightens children’s exposure to problem content like cyber-bullying and fear of missing out (FOMO).

Addiction to video games is related to lower academic results. The rise in video games might be a factor contribution to fewer young male in the labor force. The use of psychological means on persuasive design to negatively affect children and teens is unethical. It hurts children’s relationships with their families and it is something which needs to be addressed immediately.


Category(s):Addictions, Child Development

Source material from Psychology Today


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