Your Tech Habits: Healthy or Harmful?

Spring break is here, and I had the chance to catch up on some podcasts. Interestingly two of them had a similar topic and even featured an interview or quotes from the same expert. One of my roles as an instructional technology coach is to help students learn about digital citizenship, and one piece of that vast topic is having students reflect on their own technology use. So, I’m reflecting on mine. The two podcasts I mentioned, Fresh Air and Note to Self, both aired episodes regarding technology’s addictive nature.

Fresh AirThe Fresh Air episode “‘Irrestible’ By Design: It’s No Accident You Can’t Stop Looking at the Screen” focuses on the book Irresistible by Adam Alter. In his book, Alter discusses smartphone addiction, video game obsession, and how technology is affecting our attention span.

“Will You Do a Snapchat Streak With Me” from the podcast Note to Self takes a more targeted look at how Snapchat draws users in and compels them to check in multiple times a day. The website for this episode offers some less harmful technology and even a tool called Moment, which people can use to monitor their own smartphone habits.

Both of these shows feature either quotes from or an interview with Tristan Harris, a former Google ethicist. He discusses how social media companies and video game creators intentionally make their products addictive. Harris suggests designers should take an oath—as doctors do—to do no harm.

Here’s where my self reflection comes in. Ironically, I’m going to download Moment on my phone so I can monitor how often I use my phone. I’ll do it this week. Check this blog next week to see my results.

Update: Turns out my average for the week was only 35 minutes a day. Pretty good, but I don’t know how I would have done if someone tracked my phone usage time without my knowledge.

Kevin Rogers