Did you know Facebook and a host of other social media sites were designed to mess with your mind? And not only your mind, but your kids minds! That’s not just some far-out theory. That comes straight from the mouth of Sean Parker, former president of Facebook. He admitted that the developers of Facebook and other social media sites recognized “a vulnerability in human psychology” and built the sites to take advantage of that weakness to get its users addicted.
Parker was speaking at an event sponsored by Axios, a news and information website founded by Politico, and was not hesitant in saying he and the team that launched Facebook tried to figure out “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”
Thumb up . . . The consequences
They decided on a “social-validation feedback loop . . . exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with,” said Sean Parker. That means—and you know this—that users want people to “like” what they post. Give a thumb-up. And when they get “likes,” they want to post more so they get more “likes.” There are now more than two billion people liking each other. That sounds good, doesn’t it? We all want to be liked, and it’s better to like people than to hate people. Ah, and all the “friends” we have. This is wonderful!
However, Sean Parker continued with his admission of knowledge of the consequences of a website such as Facebook.
It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.
Think about that!
We did it anyway!
Sean Parker continued:
The inventors, creators—it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people—understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.
We need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.
The thought process that went into building these applications . . . was all about: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?”
Watch Tucker Carlson’s evaluation of Sean Parker’s comments about how social media is destroying both America and our kids.
Is this affecting your kids? Perhaps more than you realize. I recently read about a girl who told a friend she was unhappy because no one talked to her anymore. Her friend responded that she felt the same way. The sad, pathetic, irony of that interchange was that the two girls were sitting in the same room texting each other!
A former Facebook vice president for user growth, Chamath Palihapitiyahas, also turned his back on the medium he helped develop and expand. At a talk given at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he said that he and the company’s founders “have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” His own kids don’t have profiles on the social network. Palihapitiyahas admitted he feels “tremendous guilt” for the kind of impact Facebook has had on the world. His own kids are “not allowed to use this [expletive].”
What would Steve Jobs do?
Back when the first iPad was hitting the market, an Apple employee asked Steve Jobs what his kids thought about the tablet. Jobs said, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” The author of the book about Steve Jobs told that same person some homey details about life in the Jobs family. “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” he said. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”
Some of the possible effects on young people spending a lot of time on the social media sites (at least four times a day) include:
- Low self-esteem leading to poor health
- Lower grades
- Less time studying
- Poor time-management
- Looking for a sense of “belongingness”
- Symptoms of anxiety
You can read more about the consequences in a Forbes article dated June 30, 2017 titled “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health.”
Kidshealth.org says 17% of teens say they’ve been contacted online by someone they didn’t know in a way that made them feel scared or uncomfortable, 30% say they’ve received online advertising that was inappropriate for their age, 39% admitted to lying about their age to gain access to websites. In addition, another study showed 9 out of 10 teens post photos of themselves online or use their real names on their profiles; 8 out of 10 reveal their birthdates and interests; and 7 out of 10 post their school name and the town where they live. Actions like this can make kids easy targets for online predators and others who might want to cause them harm.
Let me know if your kids use social media. If so, how much? What, if any, are your rules? Are you surprised at the confession of Sean Parker?