Last month, Richard Freed, child and adolescent psychologist, published an eye opening and damning article on the unfettered use of psychological research and understanding in modern technology.
While Freed was mostly concerned with the stance the APA (American Psychological Association) needs to be taking in response to the use of child psychology for ends other than those of helping people, he offers a lot for those of us simply concerned about kids.
The basic premise is simple – that the use of psychology by big tech companies (device manufacturers, social media, internet companies, game and app developers are all included) has not been given the level of scrutiny it deserves. Tech developers have been learning about how we are motivated, how behaviors are triggered and how we respond to rewards, to manipulate user behavior beyond the tipping point from choice to compulsion. The use of these understandings in technological design is called persuasive technology, or behavior design. These names say it all. The game is rigged, against all of us users, and in the case of child users, rigged against their parents.