By Yan Barcelo
Smartphones and apps are designed to get you hooked, says a former Google product manager.
“Streaks” on Snapchat are a perfect illustration of this kind of reflex conditioning. Apparently benign, streaks show the number of days a user has been messaging back and forth with someone. But kids who go on vacation, for example, are stressed at the idea of losing their streaks, so they give their password to a few other kids who keep their streaks going for them. Is this really designed to “help” people, or to keep them hooked? asks Harris.
The process of addiction has been neurologically studied — and coded. Ramsay Brown, founder of Dopamine Labs, which specializes in apps for fitness companies and finance firms, puts it this way: “Since we’ve figured out, to some extent, how these pieces of the brain that handle addiction are working, people have figured out how to juice them further and how to bake that information into apps.”
Technology is supposedly neutral, but that’s not true. Programming devices is about programming people, claims Harris. The unending distraction of emails and apps is “weakening our relationships to each other and destroying our kids’ ability to focus.”
This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of CPA Magazine.