Mother Suing Fortnite

Mother Suing Fortnite

Fox news reported, "A class action lawsuit has been filed by a Canadian law firm for parents who say their two children have an addiction to Fortnite. The lawsuit makes the claim that Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, “knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.” Prince Charles  also threatened to make it illegal in England. 

The concerns regarding the addiction of this game are real. It’s due to the dopamine loop technique used by all app and game developers. It is  specifically designed to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain to release massive amounts of dopamine. This is the chemical that is naturally forming in all of our brains when we experience pleasure. However, the amount released by our devices and apps are not healthy doses. Once we feel that 'feel good' feeling, we want more. I have experienced it myself with the word game I play. 

In Glow Kids, according to Ramsey Brown, a neuro-economist, who along with a neuro-psychologist, created the company Dopamine Lab, “We’ve figured out how pieces of the brain that handle addiction are working, and how to juice them further and bake that information into apps” (Kardaras page XVIII-XIX).

On Gordon’s Linkdin account, he describes himself as a "hacker of engagement and retention." The following is an ad for his company: "With a magic line of code, Dopamine Labs aims to give any app the same addictive power that Facebook, Zynga and others have spent millions to perfect."

Their sole purpose is to analyze our data and create algorithms that keep us wanting to come back for more. Unfortunately, they use these codes to hook our children. They have no remorse about creating these addictions.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Tristan Harris, a tech whistle blower, also shared, "Silicon Valley is intentionally engineering your phone, apps, and social media to get you hooked. There’s a whole playbook of techniques that are used to get you using the product for as long as possible” (Kardarad p. XVIII-XIX).

Banning the games, warnings on games, or suing a company are not the answers to helping our children.  Fortnite will quickly be replaced by a dozen other games. But there are things we can do to help our children recognize how the devices are controlling them.

Training our children to recognize the techniques Tristan Harris said are used by developers and advertisers to capture their attention and keep it is one way. More importantly, they need to be able to see how the developers use their neuroscience knowledge to manipulate all of us.

Children need to be trained to identify the physical pull of the game and be able to say, “I know I am getting the feeling to play this game because the developer is trying to trick my brain into continue playing.”

I begin training students on how to manage their devices by sharing what the developers know that neuroscientists and sociologist have discovered about our innate drives:

  1. They know our brains are innately drawn to novelty. That’s why Apple has a new version of their phone every year and apps are being added daily.
  2. We are also genetically designed to make connections for the preservation of the species. All social medias platforms capitalize on this fact.
  3. They know the brain is taking in information even when we are not aware. Advertisers also capitalize on this knowledge.
  4. They have discovered how to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain to release massive amounts of dopamine. The feel good reaction we get from games we play, the likes we get on social media, and the prizes we can win if we reach the next level of an educational game are all designed to do one thing: keep us connected for as long as possible. 

The answer to managing devices requires our children learn the rules of the road to navigate their technology use. Just like the DMV requires new drivers learn the rules of the road and prepare for safe driving, we need to train our children to recognize the techniques that are used by developers and how to recognize why and when the device is pulling them to play, so they can control their device, instead of it controlling them.

Be sure to read tomorrow’s blog post for more tips for helping your children become successful device managers.

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