How to combat addiction in technology? Web Summit wants to find answers

The fact that many of us sleep next to our mobile devices serves to illustrate the need to think about it.

We are increasingly connected. And no, we are not always linked to other people but to our smartphones and the technology that surrounds us. Do not believe? Do you think alarmist? The fact that both Google and Apple have integrated Android and iOS tools to limit time spent online should be an alarm to know that addiction to technology is a problem that we have to deal with.

Being one of the largest technology summits in the world, the Web Summit is the right place to discuss the topic. That is precisely what the participants of one of the conferences on the last day of the summit did, which sought to answer the question of how time is limited to the screen.

For the professor of clinical psychology and rehabilitation at Kings College London, Dame Til Wykes, it is important to highlight the negative consequences that the Internet may have on someone who already has a debilitated mental health such as “anxiety” or “obsessive-compulsive disorder “. For Wykes, it is difficult to know whether the problem is on the Internet or in people and that there is more likely to be a parallel correlation between them.

For Michael Smith, the co-founder and co-CEO of the Calm application (highlighted by Apple in 2017 as one of the App Store’s best apps), the problem lies in the lack of willingness of technology companies to deal with the problem. “The smartphone is not the problem. A smartphone is a tool, “Smith said, noting that it can also be used to improve mental health through apps like Calm. Despite the solution pointed out by Smith, Wykes interceded and questioned the benefit of meditation apps, calling for an attempt to analyze data that prove the effectiveness of these applications.

The privacy of personal data was also an issue addressed, which can be used to keep Internet users and smartphone users on digital platforms. “There is an obligation on the part of technology companies to tell you what they are doing with your data. I think we are in a transitional phase where we have more literacy and go from addiction to developing healthy habits, “said Wolff Olins CEO Sairah Ashman. “Most people are not averse to sharing data, they just want to know what it is that companies are doing with them.”

Some of the technologies have placed a responsibility on users for the way they use their digital platforms and the time they spend on them. However, Wykes points out that it was these same companies that created the loot boxes, considered by many to be new games of chance that end up making gamers fond of gambling victims. “Just as it prevents certain people from having access to alcohol, maybe the same principle could be applied to technology and regulated the time spent in front of a screen,” said Wykes.

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