With technology and social media so firmly ingrained in everyday life, it’s not surprising that children and teenagers are at the front of the trend. Snapchat dog filters and incessant Instagram stories are an easy way to gain popularity on the playground, I’m sure. As if it wasn’t already hard enough being a teenager, here’s an entirely new platform to seek validation from your peers. That and having the latest iPhone and hero-worshipping YouTubers, of course.
So, last week, a gathering of ex employees from Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley bods joined forces to discuss the dangers of technology addiction on young people. They warned of the potential links between tech addiction and social isolation, anxiety, obesity and depression. No holding back then.
The ‘Truth about Tech’ group are dedicated to “reversing the digital attention crisis and realigning technology with humanity’s best interests”. The non-for-profit Common Sense Media (who fund the group) were also in attendance to put pressure on tech companies to make their products less addictive and manipulative.
When marketing goes wrong
“Tech companies are conducting a massive, real-time experiment on our kids, and, at present, no one is really holding them accountable,” said Common Sense’s CEO, James Steyer. Several comparisons have been made to the tobacco industry, where cigarettes were marketed as cool and a healthy pursuit to young people. And look how that one turned out.
This is the latest in the backlash against big tech organisations, only this time they’ve got the psychologists in. Not surprisingly, a lot of former employees of large Silicon Valley companies have given sharp criticism of the industry, alarmed at the negative effects of social networks and smart phones. The floodgates have opened.