Facebook Is Destroying Children's Attention Spans

Facebook Is Destroying Children's Attention Spans

“Light boxes” — devices with blinding screen — have already been linked to cause anxiety, depression, and even trauma-like responses in both young and old alike. Excessive use of social media websites — especially Facebook — seems to have similar effects.

The underlying thought process present when Facebook was being built revolved around unconscious consumption. It’s a medium made to split your attention into a thousand little pieces, each one disjointed and estranged from the present moment. And, what may be more worrying — and ironic, for that matter — is that adopting such staggered attention spans leaves quote “social media junkies” feeling isolated and abandoned from the greater community, at large.

Tech entrepreneurs, too, seem to be backtracking and publicly disavowing some of their trendy creations that have been observed to show similar results — programmer Ethan Zuckerman famously penned an apology letter for unleashing pop-up ads into the world several years ago.

Sow, what exactly is it doing to our children? Ex-Facebook President, Sean Parker, doesn't think it will amount to anything good or healthy for the up-and-coming generations — perhaps even eliciting addictive habits.

"[What it means is] that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in awhile, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever," Parker he told Axios. "And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you ... more likes and comments."

His negative comments toward the company he once worked for go beyond his most recent criticism, writing that "If you're an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine” in a widely shared Medium post in 2016.

"We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first," he continued. "People's time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights."

Public sentiment is also turning against Facebook, hit by issues surrounding fake news and Russian election posts that reached millions of people. A recent deep dive by The Verge into technology companies found Facebook to be one of the most divisive of all the current popular online platforms, including Google and Twitter among others.

(Feature image, courtesy of Flickr)