March 28, 2023 – Why, despite multiple reports from Silicon Valley whistleblowers revealing that technology companies are using manipulative designs to prolong our time online, do we feel personally responsible? Why do we still blame ourselves and keep seeking new self-help methods to decrease our time online?

The tech industry is appealing to our deeply ingrained cultural beliefs of personal choice and responsibility. Tech companies do this directly when faced with allegations that they are addicting users.

We can choose to set our phones on “do not disturb” or “focus times.” We can set Instagram to remind us to take breaks. Yet, screen time continues to creep up. These tools are not successful, because just like the “filtered cigarette” and the “healthy choice” food products, they are not meant to solve the problem.

The goal of these products, also known as digital well-being tools, was to keep the blame ball in our court, as we unsuccessfully face devices and apps that manipulatively entice us to stay on.


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