Tech companies getting smarter by getting you hooked on your device

Posted at 11:37 PM, Apr 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-20 23:37:19-04

"When I'm in school, everybody is on their phone, no one is talking, it will be like 20 people, and nobody socializing with anyone," said former internet addict, Monica Moumou.

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, for many, it would be hard to imagine life without them.

Top experts say this is exactly what tech companies want.

'Hooked a Book' author Nir Eyal says the in-depth concept behind addiction and tech products go beyond what the average user may actually know about always being hooked on a device.

"Products are designed to be habit forming and the internet is that the content is to help people build habits for good."

Eyal says that there is a four-step process that tech companies use to get users hooked and always coming back to they're products:

1. Trigger

2. Action

3. Reward

4. Investment

"An external trigger on Facebook might be a ping, ding, notification email that tells you what to do. The action is to open the app. The reward is as you scroll through the app you have a variable of rewards that keep us checking as you scroll through your feed you're constantly getting new information. The investment is you like something, write a comment, ass a photo, you like a friend, you're investing in the platform and increasing the likelihood of passing through that hook once again in the future."

Tech companies are using the reward system structure in our brains. When we get exposed to something rewarding the brain responds by creating what experts call a 'compulsion loop'.

Something addiction expert and psychiatrist Dr. Shannon Wilson-Murray expresses has a complete correlation with the way mental triggers react to the impulse of technology products.

"Pairing up the food with a bell, ringing the bell and the dog would salivate. We are having an immediate modification response and the tech companies are fully aware of this," said Dr. Murray.

It's obvious that technology is a huge part of our day to day lives and the reality we choose to live in. With that in mind, technology is here to stay and actually continues to improve our lives daily regardless of tech companies using methods to dig into the brains of their users.

"Even for kids, we find that the data shows us that 2 hours or less of technology use, like social media and other ways to connect with other people can actually enhance well being," said Eyal.

So it is important to remember, we have the power to control technology, technology doesn't control us.

"There's nothing that Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else can do if you delete that app from your phone, change your notification setting, plan your days so that you're not persuaded by every ping or ding in your world."