Most of us have come to the realization that staring at our phone for hours on end cannot be good for us. We can observe the effects it is already having on our children. They engage less with us, and more with the device glued to their hands. It is also interesting to observe the way they interact with their peers…I think we can agree that “it is different than when we grew up”. Yep, that is definitely true.
I happened to watch 60 minutes. Their message regarded the software that technological companies use to compete to try and make their games/apps the most exciting, in order to keep people engaged. The individuals they interviewed work for technological companies, one company in particular, Google.
They have researched the brain to determine which excitement centers to target, especially targeting the dopamine receptors.
There are also companies who research through individual’s phones to determine:
- What you like, or interests you.
- What time of day you are most likely to be on your device.
- Your body’s algorithm to determine when to give you a “hit” of pleasure to keep you hooked to the app or social media site.
- For example, regarding “likes” on Instagram; the site will delay sending you a notification for a “like” and wait until you have accumulated a few likes, then sends them to you all at once. This provides you with a “hit” of pleasure.
- Our ability to focus.
Research is unable to determine (yet) if there are any long lasting effects from smartphones/social media/apps. It is concerning that in adolescence, brain development explodes. An adolescent brain is rapidly developing, more so than any other time in one’s life, hence the difficulty of regulating emotions and behaviors.
Basically, our brain is being trained to become addicted to want more and more. It does not appear that this will change anytime soon according to one interviewee.
Before we go pulling our kids’ devices, we must look at ourselves.
- Have we become addicted?
- Do you become anxious after a period of time when not using your device?
- Has your usage increased over the last year? How much?
- Has it cut into your time of being emotionally present with your child?
- Ex: do you work on your computer at the same time your child is speaking to you and just respond, “yeah, yep, uh huh..”?
- Make it a family mission to stop the addiction process which is unknowingly occurring.
- Maybe someday they will have a warning: “If you download this game it could become addictive!” Or “Parents, if you allow your child to play this game it could create addictive tendencies”.
Obviously, there are positives and negatives that come along with smart devices, technology and apps. It appears to be the old adage, “moderation”.