Heads Of Successful Technology Companies Strictly Regulate Their Childrens Access To The Very Technologies They Promote To The Masses
In 2010, Steve Jobs revealed the new iPad to the public, boasting about its sleek design, intuitive interface, and myriad functions. If this device was so amazing, why did he insist on withholding it from his kids? In an interview later that same year, Jobs told a reporter that his kids had never used an iPad. In fact, Jobs insisted on limiting his childrens access to technologies more generally. Not just Jobs, but a slew of top entrepreneurs and innovators in the tech fields have adopted a similar tack in their own lives and that of their families. They tend to buy their kids books rather than iPads.
What are we to make of this? Those pioneers at the cutting edge of technology are some of the biggest technophobes out there. Meanwhile, Twitter carries us from one hashtag to the next, the Facebook newsfeed is never-ending, and Netflix gives the viewer only a few seconds respite before automatically starting the next episode of Season 8. The problem isnt a lack of willpower, though critics chalk up binges and hashtag frenzies to this. People have willpower, but there are thousands of people behind the screens that are doing whatever they can to undermine that self-restraint.
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Lesson : Drug Addiction And Smartphone Addiction Bear Some Shocking Resemblances And Both Come With Similar Consequences
When I say the word addiction, you most likely think of drug or alcohol abuse. Recently, though, scientists are finding that some activities we engage in can affect the brain in a similar way to those more severe addictions.
In all of these cases, our habitual actions result in the release of dopamine. This signals intense pleasure in the brain. But the problem is that the enjoyment we get out of the action decreases each time we do it.
When youre trying to get that hit from scrolling endlessly through social media, you are constantly seeking more pleasure. But the dopamine release you get from it grows smaller the more you swipe up to see more of your feed. Thus you develop a habit, or in other words, an addiction.
Although you might not readily see them, the negative affects of this are prevalent. Poor sleep is just one example. The light from our phones signals our bodies that its time to be awake, so we stay awake. When we use them in our beds, it tells our mind that the bed is a place to be conscious, not to fall asleep.
But there is some good news. Even though our addictions to technology are similar to how a drug addiction may occur, they are easier to break because they are less intense. Well take a closer look at this in lesson three, but first lets look at another way our connectedness harms us.
Lesson : Notifications Are Wreaking Havoc On Your Productivity And You Should Silence Them As Much As Possible
Just now while writing this summary, I got an email notification on my phone. I quickly slid it open to see what it was and answer it. Before I knew it 10 minutes had gone by. If it werent for the topic of this lesson, I might now have gotten back to work so quickly.
Research shows that up to 70 percent of emails are read within just six seconds. Wed like to think this means were being ultra-productive, but its actually the opposite. Just like my experience while writing this summary, whenever we get an email we have to stop. And estimates say that the time it takes us to get back into deep work after a distraction at 25 minutes!
That means that for the average employee who checks their email 25 times a day, they will never get to the point of complete focus. We feel good when we check email so quickly because it gives us a small win, but the cost is far higher than anyone realizes.
Instead, turn off email notifications completely on your phone and computer. Set aside a specific time when you will check and respond to email. One study shows that people forced to not check email for a long period of time experience many benefits. They walk, interact in person with coworkers, and get outside more. The research also found that more times of longer focus sessions meant they were actually more productive by checking email less frequently.
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Review: Irresistible: The Rise Of Addictive Technology And The Business Of Keeping Us Hooked By Adam Alter
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked Adam Alter
Reviewed by John Moss
According to Adam Alter in Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping UsHooked, 70 percent of office emails are read within six seconds of arrival. The pleasing ding of a new email notification, the strong bold type of an unread email, all of this is designed to make us click and click fast. Some may want to rationalize this attentiveness as being present, but Alter goes on to cite one estimate that it takes nearly half an hour to fully re-engage in the interrupted task.
Alter is a professor of marketing at New York University. He has written one other book, the New York Times bestseller Drunk Tank Pink, which explores how environment influences our choices. Irresistible, published this past spring, is a study of how contemporary technology uses sophisticated means to draw out a mostly primitive trait in humans: addiction.
He opens Irresistible with some juicy anecdotes. How Steve Jobs wouldnt let his kids use an iPad. How Evan Williams, a cofounder of Twitter, wont either. How an editor for the technology magazine Wired severely limits his kids screen times because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand.
We’re Becoming Behavioral Addicts
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As you read this, Id be willing to bet that you have a certain something on your person: Your phone. Sure, it might not be in your pocket, but you have it within reach. Indeed, you might even be reading this on your magical little pocket portal right now. Id also hazard to guess that, were you to have it taken away from you for a few hours, youd feel denuded. Naked.
Its not your fault, dear reader, and youre certainly not alone. Yours truly lost his phone a while back, and believe you me, it presented quite the conundrum. This incident brought with it two revelations: Im extremely dependent on my phone for all sorts of different things rendered impossible without it in my possession and I may or may not be hopelessly addicted to the digital screen.
According to author and academician Adam Alter, I shouldnt be surprised.
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked is an in-depth look at a problem many of us dont even realize we have: Were becoming behavioral addicts. Half the developed world is addicted to something, and Alter informs us that increasingly, that something isnt drugs or alcohol, but technology.
I would say that reading Irresistible was an entertaining break away from technology, but Id be lying. I read it on Kindle. . . on my phone.
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Irresistible: The Rise Of Addictive Technology And The Business Of Keeping Us Hooked
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
Benjamin W. Cramer Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. Journal of Information Policy 1 March 2018 8 314316. doi:
Now that governments are finally investigating the use of personal data by online behemoths like Facebook, the time is nigh for evaluating how such companies have convinced billions of people to hand over their personal data voluntarily. Scientists are discovering that social media, video games, and other online platforms have been designed to make them addictive, to the point at which privacy and other scruples are forgotten. User addiction is sometimes accidental but there is growing evidence that designers have learned to engineer and manipulate it.
On the other hand, behavioral addictions are not so easy to escape, and the online versions are enabled by ubiquitous technologies. And furthermore, unlike drug or alcohol addiction, online addictions are socially acceptable and mainstream. Alter declares that we have entered the age of behavioral addiction and it is surely too late to stop the responsible technologies . But perhaps the situation can be managed for the greater good, with Alter occasionally calling on experts and policymakers to steer technology in more beneficial directions.
Environment Is The Primary Determinant Of Addiction
There was a time when scientists and psychologists chalked up addiction to predisposition. The increasingly clarion answer as to why some get addicted and others dont is environment.
There were about 100,000 GIs in Vietnam who became addicted to heroin. At that time, heroin waswhen judged by metrics of addictiveness, damage to body, and to relationshipsthe most harmful drug available. Only five percent of recovering heroin addicts avoid relapse. When the war ended, Nixon, who had just declared war on drugs, was deeply concerned about the return of the troops and how the United States could rehab thousands of war-torn, junkie veterans.
The government asked a research professor, Lee Robins from Washington University in St. Louis, to follow the influx of soldiers and track how they handled the return. The country was bracing itself for pandemonium, but what Robins discovered was that 95 percent of veterans stayed clean. What this demonstrated was that environment is the determining factor in addiction. The steamy Vietnamese jungles, the smell of fish, or napalm, or any other cues associated with shooting heroin were completely removed and replaced with normal routines that had no link to the drug, like grocery shopping, going to work, and caring for family.
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Alter argues that behavioral addiction is not a new concept, and people have struggled with it for years. The two components of behavioral addiction are compulsion and obsession, attributes that are dangerous and unhealthy. Alter argued that behavioral addictions often render people incapable of living healthy lives and also lead to complicated lifestyles. With each innovation and invention, such as newly developed Smartphones, behavioral addiction grows and aligns itself with the changes. Over the years, addiction has changed and morphed itself into daily human habits. The behavior has continued to accelerate with each passing decade to form part of human behavior.
Goals/Frustrated Life Characterized with only Short-Term Achievements
Alter, A. . Irresistible: The rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked . Penguin.
The Difference Between I Cant And I Dont Is Monumental
Language is one of the biggest helps in preserving habit formation while its in the fragile developmental phase.
Consumer behavior researchers conducted an experiment involving women trying to set healthy habits like better diets and more frequent exercise. The researchers instructed women to use self-talk to overcome the temptations to abandon their workouts. The first group of women was instructed to respond to psychological roadblocks with I cant miss my workouts. The second group of women was instructed to counter to mental blocks with I dont miss my workouts. Researchers found that there was only a 10 percent success rate among women who used the word cant in their self-talk. By contrast, 80 percent of women who used the word dont successfully maintained their new habits. Thats a 70 percent difference!
This is truly remarkable. One small change in vocabulary made a world of difference. Consider the implications of the two words. To say, I cant is a declaration of incapacity. Its disempowering because the sayer is relinquishing autonomy. Choice is no longer in their hands. Saying I dont affirms the capacity to make decisions. The latter is not a person who has been denied access to Instagram, but is the kind of person who does not use Instagram.
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Lesson : Its Much Easier To Change A Bad Habit Into A Good One Than It Is To Try To Quit Cold Turkey
Think of a habit that youre trying to quit. Have you tried to snuff it out more than once? Most of us end up trying to inefficiently break bad habits by the cold turkey method. Usually, this only leaves us relapsing and feeling frustrated. But theres a better way.
Instead of attempting to sever an addiction from your life completely, try substituting it for a good habit. In Charles Duhiggs The Power of Habit, the habit loop is broken down into three parts:
Each of these is present when you succumb to your smartphone addiction. Taking out your phone is the cue, your routine of opening a social media app comes next, and finally the reward is getting likes and feeling connected. The good news is that you can change this pattern and reap the benefits.
If you decide you want a healthier relationship with technology, replace the routine part of the habit loop. Instead of picking up your phone, pick up a book or something else you enjoy having in your hand. Practice this daily for a while and youll find that your relationships, mental health, and fitness will improve.
Less Screen Time And More Face
Roughly speaking, children tend to spend a third of the day asleep, another third of the day in school, and the final third engrossed by some screen, be that a laptop, tablet, smart phone, or television. Communication via technological devices now exceeds face-to-face interactions.
Around the year 2000, the amount of non-screen-related play among children dropped by about 20 percent. Its no coincidence that screen-related play rose by roughly the same amount around that time.
One experiment involving a group of pre-teens from California demonstrated the toll that screen addictions has taken on us. All 51 kids were chosen from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds. All had access to computers, and about 50 percent of them owned phones. They spent an average of an hour on the phone, two hours watching TV and an hour playing video games. The kids went to a weeklong camp, where they spent time in nature, learned to use a compass and to identify plants and animals. They were instructed to leave all technology at home. Instead of using emoticons to convey happiness, sadness, or anger, they reflected those emotions on their actual faces. Over the course of the week, they improved in their ability to make eye contact with kids and adults and communicated far more effectively.
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Creating Structures And Habits That Enhance Freedom Are The Best Remedies For Technology Addictions
Clearly, there is a problem. But whats the solution? A wholesale rejection of technology is impossible. A recovering alcoholic can choose to avoid the street where he used to bar hop, but people addicted to the internet can never completely escape it. For better or worse, its become indispensable. You need an email address to apply for just about any job or a loan.
Devices and internet are mainstream in a way that substances will never be, but what we can do is restrict technology to a small portion of daily life while building healthy habits and strong behavioral architecture everywhere else.
If someone challenged you to avoid thinking about chocolate cake for the next 30 seconds, could you do it? Probably not. As Freud pointed out, trying to suppress a thought only reinforces it. Its not enough to suppress a thought we need an alternative thought to distract us. This is true of our thoughts and our behaviors.
Building good habits takes time. Although they are fragile as they are being developed, we dont have to start from scratch. The truth is that you already have plenty of fully operational habits in your life. For those habits that are hampering you more than helping, you can co-opt them by understanding what the cue is that leads you to engage in a particular routine and then defining what the reward is that youre anticipating. If you figure out the cue and the reward, you can replace a harmful routine with a healthy one that provides a comparable reward.
What Youll Learn
In our more honest moments, most of us would have to acknowledge that we are overly attached to our technological devices. It turns out that what we gain in convenience, efficiency, and autonomy, we lose in freedom and deeply meaningful relationships. We would like to believe that we are the masters of our tools, but, increasingly, technologies are being designed to reverse this relationship, to make us hopelessly attached to our devices.
Read on for key insights from Irresistible.
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