The idea that big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are addicting us to their products has gained a fair amount of traction. That's thanks in large part to Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google who has turned whistleblower of sorts by revealing the techniques tech companies use to instill all your compulsive clicking and scrolling.
Many of these design elements are derived from behavioral research and neuroscience, Harris and other tech experts claim. Here are seven such tricks of the trade used on popular tech platforms, as identified in interviews with KQED, other media outlets, and on Harris' blog.
This feature of the messaging app tells users how many days in a row they've communicated with each other. Bloomberg reported in January that some obsessed teenagers have been logging onto Snapchat just to keep their streaks alive.
“For those that have streaks, they provide a validation for the relationship,” Emily Weinstein, a Harvard University doctoral candidate studying adolescents and social media, told Bloomberg. “Attention to your streaks each day is a way of saying ‘We're OK.' ”
Spurring even more use: The company's use of hourglass emojis to notify users when their streak is in jeopardy,
“The makers built into the app a system so you have to check constantly or risk missing out,” Nancy Colier, a psychotherapist and author of The Power of Off,” told Bloomberg. “It taps into the primal fear of exclusion, of being out of the tribe and not able to survive.”