Social media

You know how it is: just read an email or watch a video on your phone, and then you spend hours watching videos, reading new messages, etc. We pick up the phone about a hundred times a day. And every time something is shown that matches your interests.

That is of course no coincidence, the makers of TikTok videos, Netflix series or Facebook notifications have all kinds of tricks to keep you on their platform longer and to make you addicted to their apps. They even employ many psychologists for this purpose. Below we show some of these tricks.

1.            Constant stream of notifications

The constant stream of notifications makes you pick up your phone again to see what you missed. Every time you get a small reward, in the form of a match on Tinder or a completely uninteresting family photo on Facebook. There are calls for these notifications to be turned off by default.

2.            Apps without end

Apps are designed so that you can scroll endlessly. And new videos and messages are shown again and again. It is not clear whether this also leads to behavioral problems, but it has been shown that this causes children to learn less well. And adults also need to be given no stimuli every now and then to be able to process the information.

3.            Automatically starting videos

Smartphone users linger longer on videos than on photos or written messages. With videos that start automatically, the apps keep you busy again and again, while you could have been doing so many more useful things…

4.            Behavioral feeds

You get more of the same based on your behavior. TikTok in particular adapts its offering to your behavior almost on the second. Do you linger a little longer on a video about diets? Then you immediately get more of it. And this works. When Facebook experimented with an old-fashioned chronological timeline a few years ago, users quickly got bored and dropped out.

5.            Extreme messages

Extreme messages, conspiracy theories and pseudo-scientific videos keep users longer. And the more you look at this, the more you see this kind of nonsense and the more extreme the messages become. It distorts your worldview, making you think that there must ‘certainly some truth’ in this kind of manipulated disinformation.

As a user you can hardly compete against these kinds of psychological tricks. That is why some countries are already taking measures to ban this type of practice and combat addiction. For example, smartphones are banned in secondary schools in France, and in China the different version of TikTok shows more videos about science.

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