At its best, the Internet is a tool aimed to help us to advance our goals and interests. Unlike a tool, however, major parts of the Internet – especially social media – have an agenda of their own. Because social media platforms profit primarily from ads, their agenda becomes to show users more ads by keeping them on the screen/platform as long as possible. When a platform or app tries to change our opinion or behavior, it is Persuasive Technology.
Persuasive technology takes advantage of our brain’s reward systems to keep us engaged without consideration of our short- or long-term goals. If you have ever had a to-do list fall by the wayside while you spend more time than you planned on social media, you have been successfully targeted by persuasive technology.
Persuasive tech’s seamless distractions can cause us to lose sight of the larger impact technology has on our lives and emotional wellbeing. It is this same moment-to-moment gratification that can sweep kids up and lead to making unsafe decisions.
If you’d like to gain perspective on the impact of social media on your kids’ life and wellbeing, consider keeping a simple chart like the one below. One suggestion is to have each family member complete the chart and then discuss the results together. For the most accurate account of time spent, you can set up some of the tools explained in last month’s newsletter.
Use this chart to reflect on the effect social media is having on your family members and brainstorm ideas to align these activities with your family’s values and goals. Download a PDF template here.