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article imageHelping people gain control over their digital environments

By Tim Sandle     Dec 29, 2020 in Technology
Digital processes have become fundamental to most aspects of society and increasingly integrated to what people do and think. Yet this can lead to psychological issues, like stress and a feeling of loss of control. There are solutions.
To tackle the downside of increased digital prevalence of society, new research recommends different techniques that draw upon psychological and behavioral sciences. The focus is with decreasing the negative consequences of Internet use. Primarily, to combat these feelings the recommendations put forward ideas for people gaining greater control over their digital environments. This is to help challenge the rapid spread of false information and online manipulation of public opinion that is widespread across digital media.
The treatise runs that while aspects of our digital lives are covered by legal and ethical frameworks (at least to a degree), there are other aspects that require consideration. This includes drawing upon the psychological and cognitive sciences to help to develop guidelines for Internet use. This also extends into education, where it is recommended that all schools and colleges include in their curricula specific teaching in digital information literacy.
Psychology and behavioural sciences can also help to shape technology. While it is technically straightforward to put in place systems that provide automated detection of harmful materials, a more nuanced approach is required to help push users and content providers to systems that are ethically designed.
There are three specific recommendations made in the research:
Internet infrastructures should be developed so that they "nudge" people's behavior toward more positive outcomes. This would include always having default privacy-respecting settings, and only the user can elect to turn these off.
Adding "technocognition" to online content design. This means drawing up technological solutions based on psychological principles, which create obstacles when a user is considering sharing offensive material online.
Developing tactics to enhance user agency when operating within a digital environments. This would include building resilience to manipulation.
According to lead researcher Dr. Anastasia Kozyreva: "It is crucial that psychological and behavioral sciences are employed to ensure users are not manipulated for financial gain and are empowered to detect and resist manipulation."
The research is published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, where the research paper is titled "Citizens Versus the Internet: Confronting Digital Challenges With Cognitive Tools."
More about Digital, digital control, Psychology, Behavioral profiling
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