26 votes

Technology is Heroin

46 comments

  1. [20]
    tindall Link
    This article has good historical context and presents an interesting case, but I have to say, the title and the conclusion are both representative of a very problematic assumption that underlies a...

    This article has good historical context and presents an interesting case, but I have to say, the title and the conclusion are both representative of a very problematic assumption that underlies a lot of wrongheaded actions and opinions we see in society and even in government.

    "Using a phone" is not a meaningful activity. The computer, handheld, laptop, or desktop, is a tool to do something. If that something is press the Skinner box-like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc refresh button, sure, that's probably not good, but I can't see any parent or psychologist in good faith saying that the literal hundreds of hours I spent playing Kerbal Space Program in high school had "a damaging -- and perhaps permanent -- effect on [my] developing brain". It taught me the calculus, and some orbital mechanics and aerodynamics, which I'm currently having formalized in college.

    Confusingly, the article makes this point and then retreats from it, with the flippant assertion that "World of Warcraft beats Wikipedia hands down."

    Really? Ever been stuck in a Wikipedia rabbit hole? The same thing used to happen to me with my parents' 1980s Encyclopedia Britannica before I was ever allowed to use a computer. That stuff is just interesting.

    The problem is not instantaneous mass communication. The problem is that large companies are harnessing instantaneous mass communication to fuck people over. Stop using corporate social media and the problem disappears.

    36 votes
    1. [11]
      Akir Link Parent
      I've noticed this problem just about everywhere now. People will blame problems on "the internet" when they mean to say Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or whatnot. I've even seen journalists do this....

      I've noticed this problem just about everywhere now. People will blame problems on "the internet" when they mean to say Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or whatnot. I've even seen journalists do this. It's incredibly reductive. This is problematic because it may cause the government to create regulatory laws that are entirely too broad.

      16 votes
      1. [10]
        tindall Link Parent
        It's not just "the internet", either. People don't realize that you can use a computer without ever once paying for software or viewing an ad, now that Windows includes ads in its operating...

        It's not just "the internet", either. People don't realize that you can use a computer without ever once paying for software or viewing an ad, now that Windows includes ads in its operating system.

        The free/open source route and the proprietary route are rapidly becoming different worlds, and 99% of people are stuck in the dystopian one.

        13 votes
        1. [9]
          thejumpingbulldog Link Parent
          As someone who is trying to go along the free/open source route, would you have any links/software to suggest?

          As someone who is trying to go along the free/open source route, would you have any links/software to suggest?

          1. [8]
            tindall Link Parent
            I use a Linux-based operating system (Xubuntu) on a ThinkPad with as little proprietary software as possible. What specifically are you looking to do with your machine?

            I use a Linux-based operating system (Xubuntu) on a ThinkPad with as little proprietary software as possible. What specifically are you looking to do with your machine?

            4 votes
            1. [7]
              thejumpingbulldog Link Parent
              So far I couldn't say. As I'm using Windows, but I have heard about Linux. I'm just not sure how to approach it without bricking my laptop (I have a Dell)

              So far I couldn't say. As I'm using Windows, but I have heard about Linux. I'm just not sure how to approach it without bricking my laptop (I have a Dell)

              1. [5]
                loto Link Parent
                It's pretty dang hard to brick any computer these days, but there's a lot of guides out there for installing linux on computers in general, and probably your specific model too (depending on which...

                It's pretty dang hard to brick any computer these days, but there's a lot of guides out there for installing linux on computers in general, and probably your specific model too (depending on which one, but it's likely been documented somewhere). The way I had this explained to me way back when is "It's as simple/complicated as reinstalling windows if you have an issue with it, expect the new OS isn't windows".

                All that said, the best way to approach it initially is probably from a live usb (the OS boots from a usb drive and doesn't touch any of your internal data unless you tell it to) which'll let you get a feel for the OS and how it runs on your particular machine. It also won't screw up anything you have now if you decide it isn't for you, so not much downside to trying

                7 votes
                1. Akir Link Parent
                  To add to this, you may have to press a button while the computer boots up to access a boot menu or change a setting so it will boot from USB. You should also keep in mind that USB drives are...

                  To add to this, you may have to press a button while the computer boots up to access a boot menu or change a setting so it will boot from USB.

                  You should also keep in mind that USB drives are usually pretty slow, so your computer will run faster once it's fully installed.

                  1 vote
                2. [3]
                  thejumpingbulldog Link Parent
                  How could I get a live usb?

                  How could I get a live usb?

                  1. Soptik Link Parent
                    You have to download the .iso of the linux distribution you want. It’ll be in downloads section. I used Ubuntu as my first linux distribution, but I heard praise on Linux Mint as well, which...

                    You have to download the .iso of the linux distribution you want. It’ll be in downloads section.

                    I used Ubuntu as my first linux distribution, but I heard praise on Linux Mint as well, which should have more windows-like look.

                    Google the name of the linux distribution you want and download the iso.

                    Next, you need something to put the iso to your usb. I used Rufus, it’s free and always worked. You’ll find plenty of guides on this. This will erase all data on the usb!

                    I used 8GB usb, but you should have no problem with 4GB and maybe even 2GB.

                    After you have this, plug usb into your computer and reboot. You should be greeted by new OS menu, asking if you want to install it or if you want to try it. Select that you want to try it, and it should work right away.

                    If you boot into windows when you plug in the usb, you’ll need to tell the computer to boot from usb instead. You’ll have to set it up in bios, you should find plenty of guides online.

                    Few tips:

                    If Linux feels slow, it’s most likely because you’re running it from usb. Linux is generally faster than Windows when installed.

                    When you need to install something, use software center/store instead of installing it from the internet. This is one of the main differences to windows that you’ll notice. It’s easy to install and even easier to update your software.

                    4 votes
                  2. loto Link Parent
                    Most distributions have downloads as a disk image file - this'll be a .iso or similar. Once you have it, you can use a variety of programs to write it to a USB drive with enough space (usually 4GB...

                    Most distributions have downloads as a disk image file - this'll be a .iso or similar. Once you have it, you can use a variety of programs to write it to a USB drive with enough space (usually 4GB is more than enough, but it depends on the distro). My goto is usually rufus (https://rufus.ie/), but there's a ton of ways to do it. Once you have it, plug it into your computer while it's off and while turning it on, you should be able to press a key to get a boot menu - this differs based on computer/motherboard, but searching for (your computer name here) boot from usb should yield instructions. Sorry for the super late reply, hope it helps!

                    4 votes
              2. tindall Link Parent
                You're not likely to brick your laptop; these days, Linux distributions provide installation software that's pretty explicit about what you're about to do, telling you things like "You're about to...

                You're not likely to brick your laptop; these days, Linux distributions provide installation software that's pretty explicit about what you're about to do, telling you things like "You're about to erase your hard drive, are you sure you want to do that?"

                But, the real question is, what do you use your computer to do, and what would you like to do in the future?

                2 votes
    2. thejumpingbulldog Link Parent
      Honestly it really seems to me that technology is neither good or bad. Like you said, it's just a tool. It is how it is used that generally leads to the problems we faced. In the right...

      Honestly it really seems to me that technology is neither good or bad. Like you said, it's just a tool. It is how it is used that generally leads to the problems we faced. In the right circumstances, video games, social media, and other popular faculties of the internet can be good, if not beneficial things. I think the biggest problem online is this encroachment by corporations.

      1 vote
    3. [7]
      ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      Listen, good comment, but – kudos on pursuing an aerospacial(?) engineering degree. I have a lot of respect for people who can just engineer things. It takes precise mental faculties I don't have...

      It taught me the calculus, and some orbital mechanics and aerodynamics, which I'm currently having formalized in college.

      Listen, good comment, but – kudos on pursuing an aerospacial(?) engineering degree. I have a lot of respect for people who can just engineer things. It takes precise mental faculties I don't have – I'm an abstract-ideas guy – and I respect a person in possession of those.

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        tindall Link Parent
        Thank you! I'm actually pursuing a computer science degree - physics is just what I use to force myself to actually learn the maths. One great quote my uncle (a real engineer, who builds bridges...

        Thank you! I'm actually pursuing a computer science degree - physics is just what I use to force myself to actually learn the maths.

        One great quote my uncle (a real engineer, who builds bridges in New York) has is that "Engineering is what you call trial and error when someone else has already made all the errors."

        10 votes
        1. [3]
          Gyrfalcon Link Parent
          As someone currently studying engineering, I've been trying to get "Engineering is getting it 80% right and explaining why that's okay" to catch on, but the one you've got is pretty good too.

          As someone currently studying engineering, I've been trying to get "Engineering is getting it 80% right and explaining why that's okay" to catch on, but the one you've got is pretty good too.

          3 votes
        2. [2]
          NaraVara Link Parent
          I didn't know New York was still building bridges. I assumed all the budget these days was trying to make sure the bridges don't fall down due to decades of deferred maintenance.

          I didn't know New York was still building bridges. I assumed all the budget these days was trying to make sure the bridges don't fall down due to decades of deferred maintenance.

          1. tindall Link Parent
            Well, yeah. Build here is kind of a euphemism. :P

            Well, yeah. Build here is kind of a euphemism. :P

            3 votes
  2. [9]
    knocklessmonster Link
    I've actually had the thought of the title. My mom will actually nod off, her head sags, she rocks foward clutching her smartphone or tablet, and loses three hours browsing social media or playing...

    I've actually had the thought of the title. My mom will actually nod off, her head sags, she rocks foward clutching her smartphone or tablet, and loses three hours browsing social media or playing Candy Crush, only making an utterance when she laughs uncontrollably at a meme or wants to share something that is trending, much like the incoherent babbling that can accompany somebody on heroin who wasn't completely incapacitated by it.

    As far as functioning addictions, I think it's closer to alcohol where somebody will be dependent, with the reward of heroin. It will be detrimental, but also not completely destructive until suddenly it is. Heroin users tend to need more and more, but you can somewhat manage alcohol, even if you need it to be normal, at least until you die from a cirrhotic liver, or because you were using your phone while driving.

    Speaking from the perspective of a 28-year old, who grew up with the technology, but wasn't given it from a young age, or approaching it as initially alien, the larger patterns I see are younger people walking around with their face in their phone that must be dodged, or older people who will stop in place to check their phone, for one example. The older people are more like the folks who drink too much and can't even get to their car, much less drive anywhere, and the younger people are more likely to be dangerously functional. Both will run into a serious problem eventually, and are lucky that it hasn't happened yet. Hell, I once stumbled down two stairs checking my phone because I was waiting for a response to a timely question, but will never do that again.

    I used phones, but I think you can see this with any two groups of people and any technological leap. Baby boomers aren't as bad about television as their parents are, for example. I can't go further back because we're going into people who died when I was younger, though.

    12 votes
    1. [8]
      tindall Link Parent
      As a 21-year-old, this is wild to me. I've never met anyone who couldn't effectively get themselves out of the way while either reading or checking their phone. Maybe the streets of San Diego are...

      younger people walking around with their face in their phone that must be dodged, or older people who will stop in place to check their phone

      As a 21-year-old, this is wild to me. I've never met anyone who couldn't effectively get themselves out of the way while either reading or checking their phone. Maybe the streets of San Diego are just especially clear of this, but I've never seen it at all. I wonder why?

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        vakieh Link Parent
        There are places where doing that will see you knocked to the ground by people coming up behind you - this is an effective deterrent, and I expect you wouldn't do it twice. Nobody does that in the...

        There are places where doing that will see you knocked to the ground by people coming up behind you - this is an effective deterrent, and I expect you wouldn't do it twice.

        Nobody does that in the (middle of the) city where I live, but they DO do it in the cruisy suburbs in the city my parents live in.

        3 votes
        1. NaraVara Link Parent
          Honestly this is just an evergreen complaint about suburbanites. They aren't accustomed to having to share space with others, so they're extremely thoughtless and selfish about how they occupy it....

          Nobody does that in the (middle of the) city where I live, but they DO do it in the cruisy suburbs in the city my parents live in.

          Honestly this is just an evergreen complaint about suburbanites. They aren't accustomed to having to share space with others, so they're extremely thoughtless and selfish about how they occupy it. Even before phones you deal with people walking 4 abreast on the sidewalk and not letting anyone else through or tourists stopping in their tracks to gawp at landmarks or whatever.

          2 votes
        2. [3]
          tindall Link Parent
          Doing what, just stepping to the side while you check your phone? That's incredibly rude, wow. I'm glad nobody does that around here.

          Doing what, just stepping to the side while you check your phone? That's incredibly rude, wow. I'm glad nobody does that around here.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            vakieh Link Parent
            Stopping in a walkway to look at your phone. Like a footpath or bottom of stairs or something. When people need to get to a train they're hustling, and situational awareness is required. It's...

            Stopping in a walkway to look at your phone. Like a footpath or bottom of stairs or something. When people need to get to a train they're hustling, and situational awareness is required. It's mostly tourists that cop it here, because the locals know better (find a wall to stand against out of the way).

            3 votes
            1. tindall Link Parent
              Oh, yeah, I can see how that's a bad time.

              Oh, yeah, I can see how that's a bad time.

              1 vote
      2. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        For what it's worth, it happens here, in the middle of nowhere in Siberia, on a rare occasion. People seem to be generally clueful about watching where ya goin'. Seen someone just stop in the...

        For what it's worth, it happens here, in the middle of nowhere in Siberia, on a rare occasion. People seem to be generally clueful about watching where ya goin'. Seen someone just stop in the middle of the pathway, eyes down their phone. Nearly ran into someone like that from behind once.

        1 vote
      3. knocklessmonster Link Parent
        I'm sure there's a bit of difference with local demographics. I'm just in Orange County, so a short hop away, and it's a regular thing for me to have to jump out of the way of somebody not...

        I'm sure there's a bit of difference with local demographics. I'm just in Orange County, so a short hop away, and it's a regular thing for me to have to jump out of the way of somebody not watching where they're walking.

  3. NaraVara Link
    Surprisingly, this article is actually much more thoughtful and historically literate than the clickbaity headline implies. I'm glad I didn't skip over it.

    Surprisingly, this article is actually much more thoughtful and historically literate than the clickbaity headline implies. I'm glad I didn't skip over it.

    9 votes
  4. [16]
    natdempk Link
    Is this true? The author just throws this out there in a photo caption without any citations. I feel like if you’re going to make a claim this wide you need to qualify it. If all those hours in...

    In 2019 multiple studies are showing that prolonged screen time has a damaging -- and perhaps permanent -- effect on developing brains

    Is this true? The author just throws this out there in a photo caption without any citations. I feel like if you’re going to make a claim this wide you need to qualify it. If all those hours in front of a screen are spent reading or something, there’s no way this is true.

    As a child I basically spent every waking hour I could in front of screens and it didn’t have any detrimental effects on me, so I’m always highly skeptical of claims like this.

    7 votes
    1. [7]
      jamfox Link Parent
      "The Shallows" by Nicholas G. Carr explains this in detail. Screentime in itself isn't damaging, it's more related to the activities themselves. The activities we repeatedly engage in rewire how...

      "The Shallows" by Nicholas G. Carr explains this in detail. Screentime in itself isn't damaging, it's more related to the activities themselves. The activities we repeatedly engage in rewire how we think and what we value. There's a huge difference in spending time actually doing the important stuff (wiki-surfs, looking up important information that will benefit you in the future, working on personal projects etc) and just looking for the next dopamine rush (scrolling memes or instagram for hours). One betters the abilty to concentrate, learn and think; the other just gives dopamine shots that make us chase the short-term enjoyments. One is a path to contentment and the other is a path to short term happiness, but endless restlessness and discontentment in the longer term.

      Just like the article says - morphine was the answer to everything bad going on. Now, it didn't fix the problem, but it gave it a short-term fix that worked fast. Short-term it worked fine, but in the long-term it lead to all sorts of problems. Nowadays the answer is to whip out the phone to distract us from the discomforts of anything. Had a bad day? Memes. Boring bus ride? Instagram. Lonely night at home? Facebook. But like with morphine, it's great for short-term, but miserable in the long-term. It averts us from the reality and provides us with a fake delusional fix. Feels like "Brave new world" that Huxley envisoned - it seems like the technology provides us with a fix for everything and makes us happier without detrimental effects, but it's deceptive.

      This will also affect other parts of our lives, like how we express ourselves for one. If you're used to exposing yourself only to the fast and easily-digestible content then the way you express yourself will also be quite surface-level and generalising. Brace yourself for the "phone bad, book good," but I can directly observe this by comparing my friends. I have friends that mostly spend their time playing videogames and smoking weed and I have friends that vigorously read, learn and work on creative projects. There's a correlation here between which types of activities they engage in and how they are able to express themselves. For the videogamers there's no shortage of moments where I have to fill the blanks in their speech by guessing what they want to say because they just can't find the words to go beyond the most general statements. None of this happens when talking to the book readers and we're able to discuss difficult subjects with ease.

      Just to clarify I don't think memes, videogames and weed are intrinsically bad, but just that people need to moderate these more. Thinking that there's no ill effects in hiding from all discomfort is dangerous.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        Rocket_Man Link Parent
        I don't think what you've described has anything to do with technology. It seems like people have always chosen between self-enriching behaviors and fun behaviors. Have you considered that those...

        I don't think what you've described has anything to do with technology. It seems like people have always chosen between self-enriching behaviors and fun behaviors. Have you considered that those who play games and smoke do so because they aren't interested in larger issue or self-enrichment?

        I see no reason to think these people were rabid intellectuals until videogames and weed corrupted their minds.

        6 votes
        1. jamfox Link Parent
          Ah, good point. I did get sort of carried away and didn't link it back to technology. I agree that this has been always the case that people look for the path of least resistance, but technology...

          Ah, good point. I did get sort of carried away and didn't link it back to technology.

          I agree that this has been always the case that people look for the path of least resistance, but technology overencourages this behavior. Apps and videogames are designed to exploit this flaw in us and then normalize it. It has turbocharged the problem by making it seem totally normal and harmless to chase these delusional short-term enjoyments.

          5 votes
      2. [2]
        NaraVara (edited ) Link Parent
        Possibly unrelated, but all through my life everyone told me Fahrenheit 451 was a story about censorship." I finally get around to reading the book at 28 and discover it's not about censorship at...

        There's a correlation here between which types of activities they engage in and how they are able to express themselves. For the videogamers there's no shortage of moments where I have to fill the blanks in their speech by guessing what they want to say because they just can't find the words to go beyond the most general statements. None of this happens when talking to the book readers and we're able to discuss difficult subjects with ease.

        Possibly unrelated, but all through my life everyone told me Fahrenheit 451 was a story about censorship." I finally get around to reading the book at 28 and discover it's not about censorship at all, it's about exactly this thing you're talking about where people get so obsessive about watching TV that they lose the ability to engage in introspection or thoughtfully engage with the messages they're consuming.

        It occurs to me that a lot of Social Media is just the downsides of TV on steroids. But TV now is kind of respectable all of a sudden. The biggest shows these days are popular because of the popular discourse and discussion around them (Lost is the Ur-case of this, but Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones are like this too.)

        Before TV people said the same thing about novels, claiming they'd fill your head with trash and you should stick to studying and reading the Bible instead.

        If I mention this progression I'm sure a lot of people will probably cite that lame, apochrypal Sophocles quote about how the children today have no respect for elders and blah blah blah and just say we're being luddites. But I think that's the wrong way to take it.

        We entered the golden age of television when on-demand viewing became a thing. Instead of trying to catch the attention of an idle channel surfer, networks had to actually make you want to come and watch a specific thing. They had to make that thing compelling enough that you make a conscious choice to watch it rather than riding a dopamine wave that deposits you there.

        When Radio got big novels suddenly got more respectable. In the past novels were often published in serialized formats, like magazines and newspapers, so the style was very much focused on catching you with a hook and then dangling some bait to make you come back for more. Once radio and TV came around the people who wanted those quick hits started going to those and the novels and magazines had to switch to business models focused on generating buzz and making people want to buy them so they can be part of the conversation.

        In both cases, advertising-focused business models made the mediums trashy and encouraged them to bring out worse elements of peoples' natures. Social media is in the grip of this now, but it's the dependence on advertising revenue--and the resultant drive to monopolize peoples' time and attention--that's causing it.

        I think some people are just easily attracted to the quick-hit/shiny thing and this is probably correlated with addictive personalities. When you talk about your video-game and weed friends who can't finish sentences, the dominance of design patterns designed to commandeer your attention and linguistic stylings focusing on simplifying and distilling concepts into the pithiest possible sound-bite is probably what's done this to them. Your book reading friends are more exposed to having to grapple with nuance.

        This might even help explain why so much of the gamer-world is just so damn bad at being able to criticize games in anything like a literary way. They just don't know how to talk about the way things make them feel, or be able to separate something that makes you feel sad or uncomfortable from something that actually is bad.

        6 votes
        1. jamfox Link Parent
          This is totally related and I agree. There was a good quote that I can't seem to find, but it went something like this: there comes a time when an institution will start prioritizing its own...

          This is totally related and I agree. There was a good quote that I can't seem to find, but it went something like this: there comes a time when an institution will start prioritizing its own survival over serving its original purpose which was to better humankind in some way.

          That can be generalised to most inventions. For example Fortnite is the ultimate symbol for this in the gaming scene. It's the culmination of all things manipulative in gaming. When you dive into the mechanics of the game, it turns out most of what it's providing for the player is just addicting false sense of accomplishments and progression. Folding Ideas called Fortnite "a storefront with a game slapped to it" and I have to agree with him, because it's purpose is not to provide a meaningful experience, but to make money. This is especially dangerous considering the main demographic of the game. That is also why I always cringe in pain when Fortnite is called the "new Minecraft for the newer generation."

          3 votes
      3. [2]
        natdempk Link Parent
        Out of curiosity, how much does "The Shallows" go into the science and the studies behind the theory? I would genuinely like to learn more about this, but I'm wary of things that stray too far...

        Out of curiosity, how much does "The Shallows" go into the science and the studies behind the theory? I would genuinely like to learn more about this, but I'm wary of things that stray too far into speculation.

        2 votes
        1. jamfox Link Parent
          It does go into the science, as much as it can. What I mean by that is that a chunk of it is speculative (it's a relatively new problem), some of it can't ever be accurately measured (happiness...

          It does go into the science, as much as it can. What I mean by that is that a chunk of it is speculative (it's a relatively new problem), some of it can't ever be accurately measured (happiness levels of a population for example), but what's there is all still strongly pointing towards technology being a slippery slope into addiction and adverse effects.

          2 votes
    2. [6]
      Gaywallet Link Parent
      That's like saying you did heroin a bunch but didn't get addicted so you're skeptical of claims that heroin is addictive. Population style studies show an increase in autism and ADHD with the...

      As a child I basically spent every waking hour I could in front of screens and it didn’t have any detrimental effects on me, so I’m always highly skeptical of claims like this.

      That's like saying you did heroin a bunch but didn't get addicted so you're skeptical of claims that heroin is addictive.

      Population style studies show an increase in autism and ADHD with the advent of technology. While it's not moral to perform a proper double blind study on kids and assign them to tech/no tech groups, you can draw some inferences by combining this information with information from other sources, such as brain scans, of people utilizing technology the way it is currently consumed.

      Among anyone in the field of neurobiology, if you ask them whether modern apps are causing people to struggle with attention, the answer is a pretty overwhelming yes. How much does it affect it? That's extremely hard to quantify. Does this mean we should ban apps for public health? No, but I think we need to educate.

      We shouldn't be handing ipads to 3 year olds because we're too lazy to directly interact with them. We already know that the amount of time children spend looking at people and having social interaction affects their emotional intelligence and it's theorized and fairly well accepted that children who lack in social interaction are more likely to have mental health disorders related to social interaction such as autism. We also know that too much time with these devices and the ability to just endlessly hop between apps to satisfy any curiosity is likely affecting the ability for kids to concentrate or hold attention on a single thing.

      I believe the goal should be diversity of experience. Limit screen time during the appropriate ages and introduce activities that are known to help with concentration and attention such as music, reading, social interaction such as dedicated dinner time, etc.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        alyaza Link Parent
        you're going to need to cite these assertions. you can maybe make the case for ADHD (probably not autism though) being influenced by the proliferation of modern technology as you seem to imply...

        Population style studies show an increase in autism and ADHD with the advent of technology. While it's not moral to perform a proper double blind study on kids and assign them to tech/no tech groups, you can draw some inferences by combining this information with information from other sources, such as brain scans, of people utilizing technology the way it is currently consumed.

        We already know that the amount of time children spend looking at people and having social interaction affects their emotional intelligence and it's theorized and fairly well accepted that children who lack in social interaction are more likely to have mental health disorders related to social interaction such as autism. We also know that too much time with these devices and the ability to just endlessly hop between apps to satisfy any curiosity is likely affecting the ability for kids to concentrate or hold attention on a single thing.

        you're going to need to cite these assertions. you can maybe make the case for ADHD (probably not autism though) being influenced by the proliferation of modern technology as you seem to imply here, but firstly, the occam's razor approach to this would suggest that what actually happened that led to ADHD and autism being diagnosed at increasingly higher rates in the past thirty or so years is that we simply got better at diagnosing them and recognizing them for what they were in people; and secondly, there is basically no evidence that i am aware of as an autistic person which in any way suggests that either the proliferation of modern technology or screentime influence the development of autism in people. there's a medical and social difference between autism and being asocial or shy or unpersonable, and autism manifests itself in much more than social interaction, although that is certainly the biggest way in which it afflicts most people who are diagnosed with it.

        4 votes
        1. Gaywallet Link Parent
          You're right that these assertions are weak at best. WRT autism and tech there's an ongoing study in the Netherlands investigating this issue. I suspect, like with ADHD, we'll see many confounding...

          You're right that these assertions are weak at best. WRT autism and tech there's an ongoing study in the Netherlands investigating this issue.

          I suspect, like with ADHD, we'll see many confounding factors which are extremely difficult to control for.

          3 votes
      2. [3]
        natdempk Link Parent
        That's very interesting to me, do you know of any of the studies around this that I could look at? I've definitely heard things about ADHD diagnoses increasing over time, but I've heard mixed...

        Population style studies show an increase in autism and ADHD with the advent of technology. While it's not moral to perform a proper double blind study on kids and assign them to tech/no tech groups, you can draw some inferences by combining this information with information from other sources, such as brain scans, of people utilizing technology the way it is currently consumed.

        That's very interesting to me, do you know of any of the studies around this that I could look at? I've definitely heard things about ADHD diagnoses increasing over time, but I've heard mixed things about the cause. I've heard everything from parents just having unrealistic expectations of children today, to the structure of play and children's activities changing, to technology changing, to pharmaceutical companies pushing medications. I would be curious to hear more about how the population studies control for this.

        Among anyone in the field of neurobiology, if you ask them whether modern apps are causing people to struggle with attention, the answer is a pretty overwhelming yes.

        I think this is another interesting one, do you know of any studies around this? I can imagine that people are definitely interrupted more by technology, does that correspond with a decrease in attention span on non-interrupted tasks?

        I don't disagree that diversity of experience is good, and I think there are definitely some trends here. I definitely had a fair amount of it as a kid as well, and I think it was valuable, but I'm also curious what the science actually says here. I'm really wondering how much is speculation and what has and hasn't been studied as of today.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Gaywallet Link Parent
          They don't. Hence "draw some inferences" and "it's not moral to perform a proper double blind study". The reality is we are grasping at straws here, but when the health of your child is at risk,...

          I would be curious to hear more about how the population studies control for this.

          They don't. Hence "draw some inferences" and "it's not moral to perform a proper double blind study".

          The reality is we are grasping at straws here, but when the health of your child is at risk, would it really cause anything negative to apply a very moderate screen time reduction plan or to diversify your child's activities?

          I could pick and choose some smaller questionnaire based studies which show something, but the reality is questionnaire based studies have their biases and it won't explain much.

          I can imagine that people are definitely interrupted more by technology, does that correspond with a decrease in attention span on non-interrupted tasks?

          I don't have an answer to this question. As far as I know, there's very little research out there on population level issues like this which are more reliable than questionnaire based studies. But there are plenty of books out there by doctors which talk about how it's theorized our brain is being effected by technology.

          I'm really wondering how much is speculation and what has and hasn't been studied as of today.

          The reality is most of is still speculation at this point and I'm not sure we will ever be able to truly have hard science on a subject like this. But this is true of most population health level stuff, as often you have to rely on questionnaire data or situations in which it is simply not ethical to turn into a double blind study.


          I want to make it clear, because perhaps I did not in my original comment, that I'm not saying that the majority, or even a large portion of the increase in prevalence of either of these diseases is due to increased use of technology. I'm just pointing out that it is a contributor, and one we need to study more.

          2 votes
          1. natdempk Link Parent
            Thanks for the great reply :) I agree it's definitely something that needs to be studied more, and I'm definitely not saying diversity of activities is bad/harmful. Was mostly just asking all of...

            Thanks for the great reply :) I agree it's definitely something that needs to be studied more, and I'm definitely not saying diversity of activities is bad/harmful. Was mostly just asking all of these out of curiosity so it's great to hear the details of where things are at.

            3 votes
    3. [2]
      rain1 Link Parent
      wouldn't googling about this to research it for yourself be better than checking one potentially cherry picked linked by the author?

      wouldn't googling about this to research it for yourself be better than checking one potentially cherry picked linked by the author?

      1 vote
      1. natdempk Link Parent
        I don't think the two are mutually exclusive, but I was really looking to bootstrap my knowledge here and learn collaboratively with someone else. By taking a charitable view, and actually got a...

        I don't think the two are mutually exclusive, but I was really looking to bootstrap my knowledge here and learn collaboratively with someone else. By taking a charitable view, and actually got a great and honest response from Gaywallet.

        3 votes