Have you seen the new Netflix documentary called The Social Dilemma?
If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to add it to your calendar. If you have seen it, what did you think?
I first heard Tristan Harris’ story back in 2017 at his TED Talk called: How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day.
As I launch my new company, Smart Digital Kids, I’m acutely aware that my tribe is small. Maybe it’s because some of us are tired of hearing, “Delete your social media accounts!” and “We’re all addicted to our phones!”
Reality is that most parents don’t want to delete their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and many kids would rather have their finger nails removed than live without–Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.
Documentaries, like The Social Dilemma are indeed important. Harris and the other tech experts presented the facts, and we are challenged with how to proactively make changes.
I like Diana Graber’s positive perspective of what Harris and others left out of the conversation. In her article “Parent Guide to Watching/Discussing The Social Dilemma” she advocates educating our youth rather than frightening them:
“Our job as parents and educators is to teach youth how to use tools ethically, safely, productively, and in moderation. Remember, no matter how scary or omnipotent technology is made out to be in this film, it is still just a tool. Students must learn how (and that they can) exert self-determination over their tools. We cannot afford to wait for the platforms to fix themselves, change their business model, or for government legislation to magically happen. Education is the only solution that will solve this social dilemma.”
I agree with Harris, that we can be easily persuaded and tech companies must have some form of accountability. But let’s work on persuading parents to use tech thoughtfully and wisely in front of their kids. Instead of scaring the next generation of digital device users, we’ll do better to help parents and teachers educate kids how to use tech intentionally, responsibly and in ways that promote purpose and wellbeing.