Smartphone Addiction: The Slot Machine in Your Pocket

Smartphones and social media by their very nature are like slot machines, enticing users to check for updates and news, explains Tristan Harris for Spiegel Online, describing intermittent variable rewards and need for social approval. The technology, like magicians, gives users the illusion of choice. “Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom,” Harris writes. “Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make ‘free’ choices, while we ignore how our choices are manipulated upstream by menus we didn't choose in the first place.” Tech companies provide excessive choices and create a false sense of urgency, encouraging repetitive and unnecessary consumption. “The problem is: Maximizing interruptions in the name of business creates a tragedy of the commons, ruining global attention spans and causing billions of unnecessary interruptions each day.” He offers recommendations including a ranking system for internet sites on “time well spent.” In the meantime, those online must be disciplined in making deliberate, free choices for a mindful experience. – YaleGlobal

Smartphone Addiction: The Slot Machine in Your Pocket

Internet and smart phones impose hundreds of unnecessary interruptions each day and users and providers could do more for intelligent and deliberate choices
Tristan Harris
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tristan Harris, 31, is co-founder of the movement for Time Well Spent , a magician and an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities. Until 2016, he was a product philosopher at Google, where he studied how technology affects a billion people’s attention, well-being and behavior.

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2016 All Rights Reserved Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH

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