Tech group addresses mental health issues of mobile devices and social media

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising

February 6, 2018

As concerns are growing that social media and mobile technologies may be harmful to children’s but also grown-up’s health, a new coalition has been formed to address the issue in the US.
Created by ex-employees of Facebook, Mozilla, Nvidia and Google, the Center for Humane Technology will partner with Common Sense, the advocacy organization for kids in the digital age to focus on protecting the young from potential digital manipulation and addiction.
The campaign called “Truth About Tech” is supposed to pressure the tech industry to help make products less intrusive and addictive.
The goal is to ensure that technology creators are aware of their moral responsibilities.
The Center for Humane Technology is led by Tristan Harris, an ex-Google design ethicist and Roger McNamee, the former Facebook advisor.

“Tech companies are conducting a massive, real-time experiment on our kids, and, at present, no one is really holding them accountable,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense.
“Their business models often encourage them to do whatever they can to grab attention and data and then to worry about the consequences later, even though those very same consequences may at times hurt the social, emotional, and cognitive development of kids. It’s time to hold tech companies accountable for their efforts designed to target and manipulate young people. When parents learn how these companies can take advantage of our kids, they will join us in demanding the industry change its ways and improve certain practices.”

According to latest estimates, teenagers are now using around nine hours of media a day, and half of them say they feel addicted to their mobile devices. In addition, at least 60% of parents are also finding that technology is having an addictive effect on their kids. Among the younger generation, 56% of those who heavily use mobile devices say they are more unhappy. 27% also said they were depressed and 35% are at risk of suicide.
In an effort to educate the public and tech industry, the partners are holding a conference in Washington DC this Wednesday, February 7 to discuss their roadmap for kids’ digital wellbeing.
Additionally, Common Sense will be issuing new research on digital addiction and measure the long-term impact it is having on teenagers and children.
Together, the organizations are creating new Standards for Ethical Design for the tech industry to help prevent digital addiction.