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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, a computer scientist, or a social scientist to know something’s going on in our society that we have never faced before. But it has taken some insiders from social media technologies to confirm what researchers are beginning to find, and what families have already found – sometimes too late:

[Social media] is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other,” says former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya.

Eroding, Ripping, Addicting: The Verbs of Social Media

These are not cultural hinter-landers who are speaking to this. These are the very people at the forefront: inventors and entrepreneurs who are now wanting to initiate a very different conversation about social media.

Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet.

Paul Lewis reported on Silicon Valley workers alarmed by the race for human attention:

Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.

Soul Searching:

Julie Carrie Wong further reported: “Former Facebook executive: ‘Social Media ripping Society apart’:

“A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.”

The remarks, which were made at a Stanford Business School event in November (2017), were just surfaced by tech website the Verge (Dec 2017).

“This is not about Russian ads,” he added. “This is a global problem. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

Palihapitiya’s comments… were made a day after Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, criticized the way that the company “exploit[s] a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop” during an interview at an Axios event.

Parker had said that he was “something of a conscientious objector” to using social media, a stance echoed by Palihapitiya who said that he was now hoping to use the money he made at Facebook to do good in the world.

“I can’t control them,” Palihapitiya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that s#*t. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that s#*t.”

He also called on his audience to “soul-search” about their own relationship to social media. “Your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed,” he said. “It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re going to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

You are Not Helpless – Here’s What You Can Do:

Four Principles for Screen Time:

Recently the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) reported: “Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world.”

The digital landscape is evolving more quickly than research on the effects of screen media on the development, learning and family life of young children. Evidence-based guidance to optimize and support children’s early media experiences involves four principles: minimizing, mitigating, mindfully using and modelling healthy use of screens.

CPS Screen Time Recommendations:

“To promote child health and development in a digital world, physicians and other health care providers should counsel parents and caregivers of young children on the appropriate use of screen time. Specific recommendations include the following:

Minimize screen time:

  • Screen time for children younger than 2 years is not recommended.
  • For children 2 to 5 years, limit routine or regular screen time to less than 1 hour per day.
  • Ensure that sedentary screen time is not a routine part of child care for children younger than 5 years.
  • Maintain daily ‘screen-free’ times, especially for family meals and book-sharing.
  • Avoid screens for at least 1 hour before bedtime, given the potential for melatonin-suppressing effects.

Mitigate (reduce) the risks associated with screen time:

  • Be present and engaged when screens are used and, whenever possible, co-view with children.
  • Be aware of content and prioritize educational, age-appropriate and interactive programming.
  • Use parenting strategies that teach self-regulation, calming and limit-setting.

Mindfulness: As a family, be mindful about the use of screen time:

  • Conduct a self-assessment of current screen habits and develop a family media plan for when, how and where screens may (and may not) be used (see “Ten Questions to Consider Asking Families with Young Children“).
  • Help children recognize and question advertising messages, stereotyping and other problematic content.
  • Remember: too much screen time means lost opportunities for teaching and learning.
  • Be reassured that there is no evidence to support introducing technology at an early age.

Model: Adults should model healthy screen use:

  • Choose healthy alternatives, such as reading, outdoor play and creative, hands-on activities.
  • Turn off their devices at home during family time.
  • Turn off screens when not in use and avoid background TV.”

For more, see posts tagged either “Technology” – or – “Time and Timelessness.