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 are not anxious for one simple reason — they don’t know what happened. They are clueless. What they do not know has no power to hurt them. …
Artificial Intelligence is getting smarter.
While a human brain stays the same.
Not a fair fight.
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 of the user with weaponized content, optimized for any behavioral outcome to be extracted from them. This behavior modification is paid for by the real customers of social media platforms, who are advertising their products, political candidates, religions, charitable causes, revolutions — anything to influence their “target audience”. …
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.
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 prefer to keep to themselves: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, addiction, parental separation, age, and gender. …
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 day is not linked with mental health issues or unhappiness. …
Here are the simple hacks and reasons to fight back.
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:
What can we do if we feel helpless against our Facebook addiction? Our Instagram obsession? The unhealthy amount of time we spend scrolling through news feeds or playing video games? Devoting hours to our phone while neglecting our productivity, health, sleep, and relationships?
How can we break bad digital habits that have taken over our lives?
It’s not our fault. It’s not our lack of self-control. It’s not our children’s character flaw or our bad parenting. It’s a moral failure of the industry that is built on extracting human attention regardless of the human cost.
The problem is that Big Data knows more about our deepest psychological insecurities than we know ourselves. …
Have you ever been frustrated by seeing an incomplete profile on your LinkedIn profile page and felt an irresistible urge to finish it? I have been staring at mine for years. Right there in the middle of the page where they want me to see it. Showing me that I am 90% done. Shaming me that my profile strength is only “Intermediate”. Warning me that I am missing out on multiple professional benefits if I don’t complete it. What is missing? My exact geographic location.
Which I would like to keep to myself. It would not matter to my remote online work. …
If I was an evil Artificial Intelligence genius, this is exactly where I would want humans to be — scared to death, glued to their screens.
With the COVID-19 global lockdown, this is where humanity found itself in 2020. Billions of us trapped in quarantine inside our homes and apartments, all real-life events cancelled, with screens our only option for work, education, communication, and entertainment.
A perfect setup for AI-driven digital media that was fiercely competing for limited human attention with all it’s got — apps, social media, news, video games — across multiple screens.
Not surprisingly, some humans have started to notice that Facebook and YouTube were kind of addictive and thus detrimental to their productivity, attention and relationships. Many were actively building better digital boundaries — working, socializing, exercising, spending time in the real world with real people. …
Sean Parker, first president of Facebook — and now a conscientious objector to social media, bravely went on the record when he said the following in the interview:
“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains. The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them…was all about: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” And that means that we need to give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content…more likes and comments. …
Young brain + Constant Digital Stressors = Stress and Anxiety
Recently, counselors from our school district talked during the meeting with the parents about the mental health crisis they have on their hands. One counselor shared that she had performed double the risk assessments in the first marking period this year alone than in the entire year when she started on the job 6 years ago. If you are counting, that translates to an 800% increase in her workload.
A risk assessment is performed when a student is considered at risk for self-harm. It’s part of the suicide prevention program. …