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Positive Intermittent Reinforcements

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called, The Social Dilemma and when you consider the implications it can be very scary indeed. Ever since the invent of the Internet our world has been shrinking and our lives have become less private and our choices are more manipulated. We think the information is free, but we are the ones being bought. Internet advertisers are buying our attention, buying our minds, buying our behaviors, buying our children, and buying the future.

Social Media has interfered with relationships even while it offers more and more advice on how to improve them. Couples meet via social media platforms where people can lie about who they are in order to deceive others into complacent victimization. Children are being bombarded with sexual content at earlier ages, women are being targeted for sexual exploitation, and the elderly fall victim to financial predators. Those who own the social media platforms are able to select or delete content as they wish and sway an entire generation to believe a false narrative with horrific side-effects. What was once innocent and entertaining is now the place where people gather to cause harm to others.

If we know this is true at the conscience level, why do we have such a difficult time putting down our phones, or requesting our children to put them down? In psychology there is a term called positive reinforcement. When a child does something good or what we want them to do, we reinforce that behavior by offering things to them that they want: a toy, a hug, a smile. Everyone wants something; a small child wants attention, a teen wants to be included, a coworker wants to be praised, a spouse wants to be loved. Dopamine is released into your brain when you experience something pleasurable and that makes you feel good. Repeat receiving of your particular need, over and over again, and you are now addicted. This is what is called positive intermittent reinforcement and this is what the Internet gives us through repeated visualization stimulation. See something pleasurable, get a dose of dopamine. You want more and it's readily there; just swipe and boom.

Today, the Internet is being forced fully on our children as they are driven to Distance Learning. They in turn are coming to therapy in mass because of anxiety and depression. They are being emotionally challenged by the constant flooding of their little minds as they attempt to collect and differentiate what they are "supposed" to learn. They feel defeated as parents place all the responsibility on their little shoulders for their success of failure yet they have no control. When there is that much pressure put on our kids they have limited means to cope; they isolate, withdraw into a corner, harm themselves, and some even die.

"When you look around you, if feels like the world is going crazy."

Tristan Harris

Younger and younger children are becoming addicted to technology. Infants are being given phones by their parents who want to distract them so the parent can engage in watching their own form of technology. The child gets addicted to the immediate gratification of watching a video or playing a game which gives them a Dopamine shot. The parent now wants to put the child to bed and the child's brain is craving the stimulation and so the baby cries. The parent wants to get some sleep so they give the phone or tablet to the child, BOOM more Dopamine. This pattern repeats until the child is now a teen-ager and the parents wonder why they have no connection with their children and they scream when you want to take their phones from them. Young children are being diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder because of the level of trantrum associated with a parent removing their phone.

The biggest problem is now that society as a whole is addicted to their phones how do we unravel this addiction? The simple answer is to just turn it off, turn it all off. Try this...go to work without a computer...I can't do that, I'll get fired. How will I know what's going on in the world without watching the TV...oh I know...I'll listen to the radio...oh wait it's connected to the internet too...okay, no TV or radio and I'll turn off my phone...but what if my kid needs to reach me...oh no! I can't not be available 24/7 to everyone who MIGHT call me. And you see the problem.

Even you reading this blog is a problem. But wait, I want you to read EVERY blog I write, so come back tomorrow so you'll learn more about how you can turn off technology. I wouldn't want you to feel like you've missed something, okay?


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