One of Sunday’s 60 Minutes segments was on the effects that continual screen time has on children’s brains. In particular, they looked at a study currently being conducted by the National Institutes of Health, a study looking at brain scans of 11,000 nine- and ten-year-olds over the course of a decade.
One of the experts interviewed on the show was Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager. His comments were actually made last year for another story on 60 Minutes titled “What Is ‘Brain Hacking’? Tech Insiders on Why You Should Care.” In the clip, Harris talks about the competition among developers to find ways to hook us on their apps. He calls it “a race to the bottom of the brain stem.”
(Here’s the entire segment from 2017. It’s well worth watching. But since it’s more than 13 minutes long, maybe you should keep reading and come back to it. I don’t want you to give up before you get to the second video below.)
So where do we find the off ramp from the highway to addiction? Gamification guru Gabe Zicherman tells the news show that we shouldn’t expect the creators of the technology to show us the way, as they’re not inherently inclined to make their products less habit forming. “Asking tech companies, asking content creators to be less good at what they do feels like a ridiculous ask,” he says. “It feels impossible. And also it feels anti-capitalistic. This isn’t the system we live in.”
Hmmm . . . maybe capitalism can produce solutions of its own. Take, for instance, this example of capitalism filtered through a Swedish furniture company in Taiwan. It uses technology to thwart technology. And it uses smartphones to get things cooking—literally. (Thanks for the link, Peter.)
[photo: “in the smartphone era,” by mho, used under a Creative Commons license]
- “In October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites, accounting for 82 percent of the world’s [internet] population. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online around the world is now spent on social networking sites, making Social Networking the most popular content category in engagement worldwide.”
(“Carmela Aquino, “It’s a Social World: A Global Look at Social Networking,” comScore Voices, January 6, 2012)
- Any two people in the world on Facebook are separated by an average of 4.74 “hops,” meaning that for “even the most distant Facebook user in the Siberian tundra or the Peruvian rainforest, a friend of your friend probably knows a friend of their friend.”
(Lars Bakstrom, “Anatomy of Facebook, November 21, 2011)
- 60 Second Marketer contributing writer Nicole Hall took a deep look at the claim that the world has more mobile phones than toothbrushes. Her conclusion is “that there are almost certainly more mobile phone subscriptions than there are toothbrushes on the planet. And, if you make some additional assumptions based on our research, in all likelihood, more people own a mobile phone on the planet than own a toothbrush.”
(Nicole Hall, “Are There REALLY More Mobile Phones Than Toothbrushes?” 60 Second Marketer)
- Globally, “22% of online shoppers made their first online purchases within the past year.”
- Chinese online consumers lead the world with an average of 8.4 purchase online each month. This compares with 5.2 purchases in the US and 4.3 in the UK.
(“Global Multi-Channel Consumer Survey 2011,” PwC)
[photo: “Internet & Tacos,” by lecates, used under a Creative Commons license]