How do you urge social media and game app developers to make less engaging products? It won’t be easy since engagement equals revenue, but the Center for Humane Technology is going to try to do just that. The group consists of former tech insiders, managers and CEOs who admit that they will have to use social media to reach their target audience.
While the Center for Humane Technology knows that it cannot change existing technologies, such as Facebook, which relies in engagement for revenue from advertisers, they hope to change how designers of new technology feel about how their product is in humanity’s best interest. The way they see the problem is that technology is eroding our society by replacing social relationships with virtual ones and teaching our children that likes indicate their self-worth.
When Scientific American interviewed Simon McCarthy-Jones of the Department of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin, he spoke about software being designed as addictive, although that may not have been the designer’s intention. Social media sites like Facebook can give people a feeling of belonging, which hit home for a person with low self-esteem.
The Center for Humane Technology suggests that the way to accomplish their goal of keeping people from constantly looking at their phones is awareness. Parents need to know how addictive technology harms their kids, and how it is different from helpful technology. Ironically, the Center has a Facebook group where people can learn more about the movement.
There is a company called Dopamine Labs has a tool that boosts user engagement using an artificial intelligence tool. The company also offers a free tool for people with app addictions. Dopamine Labs does restrict sales; they don’t sell to social media app companies and online casinos, preferring to restrict sales to fitness app developers and others who create useful apps.