If you are afraid, you dare not disengage

fear emoji
fear emoji

The more frightened we are by the messages on our screens, the more likely we are to pay attention. Our animal brain is scanning the environment for danger — and digital media delivers.

Fear is a powerful manipulation tool. When fear is activated, our biological instinct of survival takes over, and our rational brain turns off.

Viruses, terrorism, natural disasters, breakdown of democracy, real or perceived assaults on our rights are broadcasted online to activate our evolutionary survival mechanism. If you are afraid, you dare not disengage. Shock value of fear-inducing content grabs and holds our attention and converts it…


Tech tantrum explosion techdetoxbox.com
Tech tantrum explosion techdetoxbox.com
Image from TechDetoxBox.com

“Never get in between a drug addict and their drug”.

When parents attempt to take devices away from kids, what might follow is an extreme emotional meltdown — the dreaded “tech tantrum”. Children are screaming, raging, smashing things (including expensive devices they are addicted to), threatening parents with property damage and bodily harm, and even assaulting them physically. All hell breaks loose when it’s time to transition to some normal human activity: sleep, family dinner, or homework.

What happens when an addict loses access to his drug? They get violent. When the object of addiction is taken away, drug addicts hurl verbal and physical abuse toward loved ones who are…


child sleeping within smartphone frame Screens and Sleep techdetoxbox.com
child sleeping within smartphone frame Screens and Sleep techdetoxbox.com
Image from techdetoxbox.com, original photo by Annie Spratt on unsplash.com

“Sleep is our competition” (CEO of Netflix).

Sleep is essential to children’s health and development. Electronic devices — especially smartphones in their bedrooms — rob kids of their sleep.

And the outcome is not good.

A friend shared a story about her son who was constantly tired, and could not keep up with his schoolwork. The parents were seriously concerned and planned to take him in for a medical evaluation, when they discovered the truth: the boy was secretly setting his alarm for the middle of the night to sneak downstairs and play video games while the family were sleeping. …


Social skills in a digital age graphic techdetoxbox.com
Social skills in a digital age graphic techdetoxbox.com

Use It or Lose It

We are prewired for social connection. Our social skills form in childhood and adolescence: a child deprived of interpersonal experiences during critical developmental windows will grow up socially impaired.

That’s exactly what’s happening to entire generations of young people whose social life migrated to the screens.

According to psychologist Nicholas Kardaras, the author of Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids, normal brain development is disrupted when real-life sensory inputs are replaced by overstimulating screens. The result is children growing up with broken brains.

Kids develop areas of the brain that are being USED. When face-to-face communication is…


Funnel and chamber pot with text Filter bubbles, echo chambers, and paranoia: how attention economy profits from outrage
Funnel and chamber pot with text Filter bubbles, echo chambers, and paranoia: how attention economy profits from outrage
Image from TechDetoxBox.com

Digital media profits from our anger.

Outrage is intentionally engineered and algorithmically promoted because it drives user ENGAGEMENT.

And it’s destroying our minds.

Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers

Filter bubbles and echo chambers are not just Internet slang — they are actual industry terms from the science of social network analysis.

Filter bubble means you only see what you want to see. The algorithm correctly predicts what information the user will click on based on their digital footprint. Which is usually the information that confirms our existing biases, effectively isolating us from different points of view.

Echo chamber means you only discuss what you already…


Image for post
Image for post

Social media kills young people. It is responsible for teen suicide epidemic.

The shocking truth is that we knew about this since the 18th century.

Every time there is another heart-breaking teenage suicide in our area, I get a lengthy email from the school along the lines “how to talk about it with your children”. The implication is that young and vulnerable children need to be thoroughly informed about the self-inflicted death of somebody just like them.

Let me ask a controversial question — do they really need to know?

As a mother, I say — NO.

When my kids are not anxious, I do not volunteer to stress them out.

They…


Human brain vs machine intelligence sumo not a fair fight graphic
Human brain vs machine intelligence sumo not a fair fight graphic

Artificial Intelligence is getting smarter.

While a human brain stays the same.

Not a fair fight.

AI and human weaknesses

To influence someone, you have to find their weaknesses: this has always been the unfortunate law of human psychology.

Only now it’s not some devious creepy character that found out what our pressure points are, but an impartial algorithm sifting through tens of thousands of variables collected about us. Finding unique relationships within our data — invisible to the human eye, but obvious to the processing power of the machine.

Of these variables the machine builds an Algorithm of You that attacks the brain…


algorithm of you graphic techdetoxbox.com
algorithm of you graphic techdetoxbox.com

Do you know that Facebook knows you better than you know yourself?

It’s a fact. If you are like most users, you have given a lot of “likes” over the years, haven’t you? How many? A few thousand? Bad news. You handed over your free will to the devil of algorithmic behavior modification.

Behind every piece of content we see is a manipulative AI algorithm that seeks to modify our behavior in some way.

The Algorithm of You can program your behavior for any outcome.

A study on the predictive power of Facebook Likes found out that “Likes” are enough to accurately predict extremely sensitive personal information that the users might…


screen time moderation graphic techdetoxbox.com
screen time moderation graphic techdetoxbox.com

Screen time moderation

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that most of the stress that teens experience today originates from their many digital activities. Social comparison, cyberbullying, anxiety, depression, and sheer sense of being overwhelmed trying to keep up correspond directly to the amount of time young people spend on their screens. Yet, parents sometimes go to the extremes when it comes to regulating screen time use: it’s either all or nothing.

Neither abstinence nor binging is the solution.

A much better alternative is moderation. Balance.

As multiple studies have found, smartphone or Internet use of up to an hour or two a…


Notification toggle for tech addiction on or off techdetoxbox
Notification toggle for tech addiction on or off techdetoxbox

Digital media creators designed your user interface to get you addicted to their products.

Here are the simple hacks and reasons to fight back.

Turn off notifications

What they do:

Hijack your attention. A notification makes you drop whatever you are doing and respond to the prompt. Turn off notifications except those from actual people you care about.

How they hook you:

  • By exploiting a cognitive bias in your brain that prioritizes unfinished business. A notification creates a “to do” item in the back of your head that would occupy your mental real estate until you address it.
  • By giving your brain addictive dopamine hits with what is called “random rewards” — those pings and buzzes are…

TechDetox Mom

Mom of 3, practitioner of the craft of screen time. Founded the blog www.TechDetoxBox.com to help protect human well-being from the power of addictive tech.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store