The average Canadian teenager is on track to spend nearly a decade of their life staring at a smartphone, and that’s no accident, according to an industry insider who shared some time-sucking secrets of the app design trade.
CBC Marketplace travelled to Dopamine Labs, a startup in Venice, Calif., that uses artificial intelligence and neuroscience to help companies hook people with their apps.
Named after the brain molecule that gives us pleasure, Dopamine Labs uses computer coding to influence behaviour — most importantly, to compel people to spend more time with an app and to keep coming back for more.
Co-founder Ramsay Brown, who studied neuroscience at the University of Southern California, says it’s all built into the design.
Brown says he hopes by speaking to CBC, Canadians will be more informed about how they’re being manipulated to spend so much time using apps.
To make a profit, companies “need your eyeballs locked in that app as long as humanly possible,” he says. “And they’re all in a technological arms race to keep you there the longest.”
.. “Just by controlling when and how you give people that little burst of dopamine, you can get them to go from using [the app] a couple times a week to using it dozens of times a week.”