should also consider whether the leisure computing technologies we develop should allow users to: easily self-track own activity; inform young users
and parents when dangerous levels of
activity are reached; and restrict/block
activities by request.
It is informative to reflect on parallels between our industry (the tech-sector) and other industries that revealed “dark sides” after a period of
focusing almost solely on positive
aspects of their products. Two industries that come to mind are the
tobacco and food industries. The tobacco industry sold its products and
emphasized their positive effects
(for example, increased concentration) while hiding its negative effects. Court rulings have forced it to
pay restitution, and regulations have
forced it to restrict the use of tobacco
products to adults, and to advertise
the risks associated with its use. Consequently, there has been a constant
decline in tobacco consumption in
Perhaps this is an extreme parallel,
because one can argue that people can
live without tobacco, but technology
is essential to functioning in modern
society. If so, consider the food indus-
try parallel. On an evolutionary time-
scale, food was scarce so people devel-
oped innate preference for fatty and
sugary foods. Modern ability to satiate
these needs has improved and com-
panies have created many such foods
to the point where unhealthy food is
abundant and obesity became an epi-
demic. Governments regulate food by
enforcing food labeling as a means to
inform consumers. Simultaneously,
awareness regarding proper nutri-
tion has increased. The responsibility
for possible overconsumption, in this
case, lies with parents, educators, and
children. Adapting this view, we could
argue for increasing awareness regard-
ing leisure technology use risks and at
the same time ask the developers of
such technologies to either voluntari-
ly or through government regulation
provide people with the means to track
use and to have more usage control
and self-monitoring. This is, for exam-
ple, exactly what Apple has done with
iOS 12. Still, we cannot solely count on
tech providers; the responsibility to in-
form our children regarding such risks
and to teach them to live responsibly
with technology is likely still ours. As
a discipline, we certainly must start
developing a balanced discussion that
acknowledges both possible positive
and negative effects of technology on
children and young adults.
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Ofir Turel ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of
Information Systems and Decision Sciences at California
State University, Fullerton, and a scholar in residence
at the decision neuroscience lab at the University of
Southern California; http://oturel1.wixsite.com/ofirturel
Copyright held by author.
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