Life for like. How social networks train your children
Sometime recently, my child (6 years old) made a video about his toys (no one taught him where he saw it) and started pestering me to upload it to YouTube. Well, okay, I think, let the memory be on the channel, someday grow, look. But that was not the end of it. Then he began to run up to me every day and ask me to see how many likes there were. And the perseverance, desire and significance of likes in the life of a 6-year-old child scares me.
And then I just read it ...
Social networks are mutated - now they are arranged in a completely different way, but you did not notice this. No, nothing happened to you specifically. But adolescents, entering into any popular social sphere, fall into the trap - large IT companies manipulate them. Children turn into laboratory rats.
How did social networks work at least ten years ago? Vanity Fair, an exhibition of achievements: one spent a vacation in Thailand, another went to a concert, the third read a book.This is great: you look at others and show yourself. The user, mired in a routine and a gray routine, envies friends, not realizing that only the facade is shown to him - and after him the same boredom.
This phenomenon has been called “envy-facebook”, it leads to “facebook-depression” - when it seems that everything is good, except for yourself. Such emotions are relevant now, but they cannot be compared with a heap of problems that have fallen on teenagers all over the world.
Any popular social network in 2018 is a cleverly tuned machine that forces the user to come back to it again and again.
This is mainly about the young: they are more interested in virtual success and easier conducted on all sorts of provocations.
In 2017, Facebook's internal documents were made public. The Australian, in turn, published the company's internal report. From the 23-page text, it turned out that the social network offers advertisers to focus on the behavior of adolescents so that they can get to the audience as accurately as possible. In particular, Facebook offered to show ads to users who are “not confident in themselves” or right now feel “useless”, “worthless”, “losers”. Including adolescents - for example, 13-year-olds, who barely discovered social networks.
How did Facebook define the emotional state? According to the Australian report, the mechanism tracked messages, photos, interactions and Internet activity in real time. So it was possible to better understand the children in order to give them targeted advertising.
At the same time, Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, admitted that the social network should consume more human time and attention. Feed users microdose dopamine, which is produced if someone likes or comments on the record.
According to Parker, the algorithm exploits the vulnerability of the human psyche.
Sounds cynical, right? Not only do they earn on the emotional state of children, they also make experimental animals out of them. Feed with likes, so that they do not leave the social network and bring a profit to the company. But there is one problem - Facebook is far from the best example of a manipulative mechanism. Moreover, young people leave the brainchild of Zuckerberg. According to the Pew research center, 44% of users aged 18-29 years deleted the application after the data privacy scandal.
The battle over the time of the young Facebook user seems to have lost.But it was won by other social networks, where mechanisms for manipulating the immature consciousness reached dangerous heights.
From Like to Periscope
Where are today's children "tusyat"? First, there are three almost identical applications: Like, Kwai and TikTok, formerly Musical.ly. We wrote about these social networks and the morals prevailing there. In short, these are services for high-speed editing and video uploading. Teens usually dance, sing and wriggle to hit music; The most popular watching hundreds of thousands of people. There is also Periscope, where roughly the same thing, but in the form of broadcasts. As well as the well-known in the western world, Snapchat - there you can exchange videos and pictures that disappear after viewing.
What unites all these social networks? Three things.
Great emphasis on video. "Random" tape, which shows videos including beginners. And a very, very, very sticky reward system. All these platforms are not suitable for communication, but it seems that users don’t need to - the main thing is to get a ton of likes and views.
For the sake of virtual encouragement, children go to stupid and dangerous acts. For example, in Kwai, girls undress on camera and dance in their underwear with songs about alcohol and illegal drugs.Associations with striptease performers are not confused - after all, there will be more viewers, and therefore subscribers and likes. In the Periscope, the boundaries of what is permitted are even wider: while hunting for watching, the girls completely undress, and the spectacle can already be qualified under article 242.1. “2000 viewers and I will do everything,” two 11-year-old friends once said live, and didn’t lie: when a thousand onlookers came running up to the stream, the bloggers began to pull off their clothes.
And what have the award system?
The important point is that the children themselves are not to blame for anything. Even those who "will do everything." They just fell into the trap of large corporations. Indeed, in social networks, users not only communicate, but also achieve certain goals. They chase likes, "friends", game points and levels, because it stimulates them, makes them happy and successful - much easier to study.
Why do teens need all these achievements? In a lecture given at the British School of Design, media philosopher Dmitry Soloviev gives a simple explanation.
Like in a social network is a stroking, an action that signals that we are seen, recognized as a person, we recognize our importance.
Like is equivalent to a smile, a compliment, active listening, a couple of kind words. For insecure adolescents who, like no one else, need social approval, these “strokes” are especially important.
In general, it has always been like this - long before the invention of the Internet. However, the “new social networks” have learned to direct the race for social approval - to make sure that its participant never stops, does not leave the race. How? Using an example of games - including mobile.
Video games best in our culture give people rewards. Teenage boys are especially susceptible to this. They want to have some data, skills, in other words - competence. Master our world and better understand things. Video games, distributing awards, can convey to people that their competence is growing, that skills are improving.
Dr. B.J. Fogg is a behavioral psychologist, the “father” of persuasion technology
“The players are, of course, not laboratory rats, but there are learning rules that apply to both humans and rats,” and this is a statement from game designer Johns Hopson, a doctor of behavioral sciences and a brain researcher. 17 years ago, he told the Gamasutra publication how to encourage the user to play constantly.Not surprisingly, Hopson also worked on Xbox Live, a service that introduced the very concept of Achievement.
At some point, employees of large corporations realized that this experience could also be used to promote conventional services. In 2009, Nokia Research employees introduced the game elements into the Nokia Image Space photo sharing program. The case turned into a separate trend - gamification: when for certain actions they promised some bonuses.
Now the reward system is perfectly honed in mobile games - it was she who migrated to social networks.
Go to Periscope. Wait for someone to like you. What will you see? That's right, a colorful explosion in the lower left. The service as if tells us - “look, look at you SOMEONE LIKE, YOU ARE COOL!”. With about the same pomp, you move to a new level in some Clash of Clans. Social network with all its strength shows your success, showered with a heap of special effects. But - until a certain moment.
It was not for nothing that we mentioned that in all the “new social networks” the algorithm randomly displays newcomers to the main one. This is done so that everyone gets a handful of attention - and the starting dose of the desired likes.However, then the stream of “free” views dries out - and for the sake of a new portion of attention we have to work. Children put more effort, but goals do not reach. Coupled with other problems, this leads to depression, low academic performance and even attempts to hurt yourself, writes Republic.
And what to do?
They started talking about the problem - for example, Apple's shareholder company. An open letter raises the question of the need for smartphones in the lives of adolescents - is there any reason for depression? Mark Benioff, General Director of Salesfroce, spoke out - the company is engaged in providing cloud services.
Mark suggested controlling social networks like tobacco companies - too addictive mechanisms are built into them.
But what to do now, while the manipulating machine works? To tear off her mask, says in his article on Medium, child psychologist Richard Fried, author of Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age.
Psychologists and technical specialists should require IT companies to make public information about manipulative technologies, their application and harmful effects. In addition, they themselves should speak louder about the problem, of technogenic companies that use children for their own purposes.Finally, we need to educate parents, teachers, and children's ombudsmen in order to show them the harm caused by excessive use of gadgets.
Richard Fried child psychologist
And it's time for parents to understand that a child is reaching for virtual success for a reason. If he lacks something in real life, he will compensate for this with likes, views and the number of viewers of the stream on the Periscope.
Social networks themselves are not evil - it's just a handy tool that allows you to dive into the pool with your head when your soul is bad.