Digital addiction: hooked on devices

Our kids' minds are hijacked by gadgets

Protect your child with Kidslox

Why is my child obsessed with technology?

You don’t even suspect that digital addiction is the result of a collaboration between tech corporations, psychologists, and neuroscientists. The bitter truth is that gadgets and apps are designed to be addictive. There is even a special term for it – “persuasive design”. When it comes to children, their still-forming brains are often incapable of handling the persuasion techniques used leaving them at risk of becoming addicted and being manipulated.

  • 150

    number of times the average person checks their phone each day

  • 50%

    number of teens who feel they’re addicted to their mobile devices

  • 6.5

    average number of hours children aged 5-16 spend in front of a screen daily

There are thousands of people on the other side of your screens whose job it is to keep you as hooked as possible, and they’ve gotten very good at it.


Max Stossel

former social media strategist

How do people get hooked on devices?

There are several sneaky tricks that tech corporations use to hijack our minds. They use the same strategies the gambling industry applies to manipulate gamblers. Let’s have a look at some of these persuasive design techniques and ways to resist them.

Variable ratio reinforcement

Trick. Random rewards tend to make people develop compulsive responses as they don’t know what they’re going to get, but know it might be something good. Children are particularly vulnerable to this. You can see this concept at work in most app notification systems.

Solution. With Kidslox parental control app, you can block disruptive apps individually or by category.

Social acceptance

Trick. Social network design is often built around collecting friends, likes, shares, followers, etc. This encourages users not only to check constantly on the progress of their latest post, but even to measure their self worth using these categories.

Solution. Kidslox lets you restrict or disable access to Facebook, Snapchat, and other popular social media networks.  

Compulsion loops

Trick. Carefully designed patterns of behaviour that encourage users to spend more time using a specific program. Examples might include the continuous scrolling feature of most social networks or games that take a certain amount of real time to complete an action, encouraging users to log in again to take another action when the current one is finished.

Solution. Set up Kidslox Daily Limits to place a hard cap on device use and decrease your child’s total screen time.

Signs of digital addiction

  • An urgent need to spend plenty of time on the Internet or playing video games
  • Anxiety and temper when access to devices is limited or forbidden
  • Unsuccessful attempts to take control and reduce gaming or Internet use
  • Use of the Internet or video games when anxious in an attempt to feel better
  • Lying about time spent on devices
  • Relationships with family worsening as game time increases
  • Bad academic performance due to tiredness or difficulty focussing

How to handle digital addiction: Kidslox recommendations

  • Set limits for device usage

  • Establish digital-free zones

  • Replace gadgets with alternatives

This app was easily uploaded to my iPhone and my 8-year-old iPad. When apps disappear he knows he's on lockdown and has to find something else to do. For a busy mom that does not want her son’s technology addiction to take over his life this is a great app.


Charleen Smith

Tech-savvy mom from the US