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Did You Know Attention Engineers Are Rewiring Our Brains?
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The Rise Of Technology And The Lonely Human:
When we were kids, we took a break from life and played video games. These days, kids take a break from video games to dabble, once in a while, in real life. If something is not required to be done, they would rather not do it at all. That is the state of affairs. Children are turning to video games as an escape to the boredom of real life. They’re using their need to interact and talk to others by chatting with strangers and virtual friends.
Children, particularly 3 through 5th graders, who have access to chat features while playing games like Fortnite: Battle Royale, Minecraft, Roblox and others face aggression and bullying towards them from strangers and other children they might never ever meet.
There are 7-year-olds talking to each other like, “Go, kill yourself.” “You’re so bad.” “You can’t even play a game.” How can we blame the rise of epidemics like loneliness, discontentment and suicide if we live in a world of connection but with hate and no particular deep positive meaning?
Digital addiction is not our fault but a result of the tech industry’s desire to increase corporate profits. “More eyeballs, more clicks, more money”. Push notifications, vibrations and other alerts on our phones and computers make us feel compelled to look at them by triggering the same neural pathways in our brains that once alerted us to imminent danger, such as an attack by a tiger or other large predator. But now we are hijacked by those same mechanisms that once protected us and allowed us to survive — for the most trivial pieces of information.
Source: Erik Peper, Richard Harvey. Digital Addiction: Increased Loneliness, Anxiety, and Depression. NeuroRegulation, 2018; 5 (1): 3 DOI: 10.15540/nr.5.1.3
How Dopamine Addiction Works:
TVs are inert objects, they don’t give us a response to our stimulation. But a personal device like an iPad or an iPhone makes our relationship interactive. It makes us feel like we’re in control.
When we send out messages, write on our walls and post pictures with filters, we live in anticipation because of the promise of a response. And, that’s our stimuli. The reward circuits in our brain is programmed to thrive on that stimuli, which gives us a shot of dopamine (the feel good hormone) high whenever we see a notification, an alert or a beeping red light.
Read more on what Down Regulation is and what role it plays in device and video game addiction. CLICK HERE.
Addictions Lead Us To Abandon Our Playgrounds:
China, where internet addiction is an actual diagnosable disease, has set new rules for young video gamers. No games after 10pm and not more than 90 minutes of it during weekdays and three hours on weekends and holidays.
The Chinese government says it is concerned about the video game addiction among children, the violent nature of games, the effect on mental health, the alarming increase in poor eyesight problems and the drop in academic performances across the society.
As parents and concerned adults we can discipline and regulate as much as we want.
But, without proper context and understanding of the consequences of obsessive gaming, children are likely to find ways to continue to indulge in this addictive behavior. Until then, our basketball courts, our playgrounds and our swings will continue to be in standstill.
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