Authored by Mark Koh
Ever since the advent of technology that brought us the Internet, it has made the world a smaller place, bringing people around the world closer. Technology has always been considered a force of good, a tool for the people to use in order to become more effective and efficient in their work and in their lives. However, as technology becomes more and more advanced, the darker side of technology is becoming more and more evident.
Have you noticed how much time you spend each day on your computer, laptop and/or mobile device? Other than work, how much screen time is spent on social media platforms, messaging apps or on-demand content? At family gatherings, friends’ parties, social events, or people out in public spaces, have you noticed that most people tend to be looking at their mobile devices and being oblivious to their surroundings, even to the detriment of their own safety while crossing roads?
Most people would likely have come across a scenario of a family gathering, where the adults are talking to each other but checks their mobile devices from time to time due to alerts received, while the kids are glued to their mobile devices either playing games, messaging their friends, or surfing on a social media platform. Cousins may even be messaging each other on their mobile devices instead of talking to each other even though they are just next to each other!
With the abundance of social media platforms, on-demand content, and online games for people to choose from, the fight for people’s eyeballs and screen time is fierce, and these technology companies are well aware of how to exploit the human psyche to gain the advantage.
The documentary film “The Social Dilemma” that was released on 9 September 2020, highlights and brings into focus the dangers of social media, and how technology is being used to exploit human psychology.
It was mentioned that there are psychology professors at Stanford University who teach ways to use technology to re-programme the way your brain works until addiction results.
Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, says “It's seducing you. It's manipulating you. It wants things from you. And we've moved away from having a tools-based technology environment to an addiction and manipulation based technology environment. That's what's changed.”
So what can we do? Are we at the total mercy of these companies that serves up to us the technology that we all crave for and use on a daily basis? Not necessarily.
At the Center of Humane Technology, it highlights the risks and impacts of using technology that can be detrimental to you or anyone through a Ledger of Harms, and helps you to Take Control, as well as providing a Digital Well-being Guidelines to help parents to navigate the use of technology at home and in school for their children.