Prey, Persuasive Technology, and Our Teenagers Wanting a Phone and Facebook


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Jesus answered them, in John 8:31-38 “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

So also, we do well to consider that freedom and truth are inseparably linked to the truth in God's economy. Just before this, Christ had said something else to the Jews who had believed him.

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Thus we turn to the question my wife Lauren and I have been considering as our eldest two sons, Josiah and Eli, are asking about a cell phone and Facebook account. Both are teenagers. Josiah at 15 is taking driver's ed online right now, and Eli at 14 will soon be taking business classes one day a week at a local community college here in Greeley. They should probably have a cell phone, then.

As for Facebook, I am more reluctant. Eli wants to use the Marketplace feature to buy and sell used things. He keeps asking me if he can create an account of his own, but the concerns about social media which listeners to this podcast have heard expressed for years are at the fore of this father's mind.

Then yesterday, a guy I work with, Chad Myers sent me a link to an article at Medium from March 12, 2018 by a psychologist and author named Richard Freed after listening to my recent episodes about anxiety, depression, distractedness, and psychology.

Titled 'The Tech Industry's War on Kids,' the piece by Freed which Chad sent me is over five-thousand words introducing 'persuasive technology' and its use in the development of everything from smart phones to video games to social media, and more.

What is persuasive technology, you might ask? In brief, it is the wedding of psychology and engineering.

More to the point, our vulnerabilities and most basic desires have been noted and catalogued, both by psychologists offline and thereafter by algorithms and databases online, in general as well as specific to our individual profiles. And a great deal of money is trading hands to the end of changing our behavior accordingly.

In other words, we are all being manipulated, and I would even say enslaved. An endless variety of 'nudges' are targeting us via easy-to-use devices and applications that reward us for submitting ourselves and our information readily to them.

So “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."

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