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Silicon Valley Tech Kings Warn Consumers to Disconnect


By Nadia Jones, Guest Contributor to TechAddiction

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the views of TechAddiction and/or Dr. Conrad.


Though it may seem like something akin to tobacco companies warning their customers of the dangers of smoking, recently, Silicon Valley bigwigs openly discussed the dangers of the technologies they helped to create. A recent New York Times article cited many executives and managers from companies like Facebook, eBay, and PayPal who’ve become vocal about the addictive power of technology. The NYT article notes:

“At the Wisdom 2.0 conference in February, founders from Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga and PayPal, and executives and managers from companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others listened to or participated in conversations with experts in yoga and mindfulness. In at least one session, they debated whether technology firms had a responsibility to consider their collective power to lure consumers to games or activities that waste time or distract them.”

 
 

Of course, much like the general public, among tech moguls, there’s not a complete consensus about the cause of the problem, or whether there is a problem at all. Eric Schiermeyer, one of the founders of Zynga, which provides such popular games as Farmville and Words with Friends, is noted in the article as arguing that people already have a natural craving for dopamine, a chemical in the brain that’s released when individuals experience pleasure. Schiermeyer argues that his company cannot be faulted because people are already “addicted” to pleasure.

On the other hand, psychologist and Stanford lecturer Kelly McGonigal notes that it’s not just the addictive behavior that’s problematic. Rather, overuse of technology can cause anxiety in users, simply because the constant clicking and browsing has the potential to set off stress signals that are biologically wired.

Still, there seems to be a growing consensus, even among producers of the technologies that have us addicted, that too much screen time has the potential to cause physical, psychological, and even cultural harm. We read many articles about the individual problems that result from extreme gadget use like carpal tunnel syndrome and depression, but what’s not quite as widely acknowledged is the way that technology can compromise relationships to such a degree that it can impact entire communities.

Google in particular has embraced balance and mindfulness internally. Google executive coach Richard Fernandez explains that the “mindfulness movement” that Google and others are embracing isn’t about giving up technology completely, or even about severely restricting technology use. It’s more about self-control—using technology when it’s necessary for work, or when it’s relaxing for play and socializing--but then knowing when it becomes something more.

What do you think about Silicon Valley’s recent discussions about the dangers of their own gadgets? What are some more balanced and mindful ways that we can disconnect from technology without giving it up altogether?

Guest Author Bio

Nadia Jones enjoys writing on topics of education reform, education news, and online learning platforms. Outside of the blogging world, Nadia volunteers her time at an after school program for a local middle school and plays pitcher for her adult softball team. She welcomes your comments and questions at nadia.jones5@gmail.com.

 
 

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