Clara Kuo
Clara Kuo
Jul 18, 2018 · 3 min read

Dear Mr Freed, as a parent and as a UX practitioner, I respectfully take issue with your redactive, and illogical evaluation of what UX research is and what user experience is as a discipline.

There is no “psychological war on kids” as you put it. Let’s not be dramatic. It seems that you are saying “all UX and technology is bad, therefore children are being harmed.” Your argument is constructed the same as “all black cats are evil, and therefore all humans who cross their path will receive bad luck.” It’s an illogical syllogism to say the least, but maybe you do not know, because you studied dark psychology and not philosophy.

I feel truly sympathetic to the kids experiencing social media addiction, because it’s a real thing just like gambling addiction or alcoholism. You are a counselor, so write as a counselor. I am curious about how you would solve for addiction. I am a UX researcher, so I write you this.

The UX practitioners at Facebook aren’t evil warlords, and some of them also have children. And, not all of UX is evil. One of the first principles in our UX code of ethics is “Act in the Best Interest of Everyone.” Another is “Do No Harm.”

Maybe, you can say that Facebook is not very correct and is affecting a lot of people’s scrolling habits. It’s hard not to pay attention where there’s a new “Like”, just like the jingle of You Got Mail in your e-mail inbox. A lot of people would not disagree with you. You should preach self-regulation instead of pointing a finger.

The UX profession originated from ergonomics, human factors, psychology, anthropology etc. because a lot of people were frustrated with technology and how it was working for them. The early practitioners had an honest intent to make it better for others. (MS-DOS anyone?)

You should know if you have ever used an iPhone or a Mac. How difficult was it for you to search on Google to write this article? Maybe you followed a link trail of keyword: persuasive design to BJ Fogg to UX, and voila: Medium post? (I think you did not have to “think hard” to get to write this which in itself is an interesting dilemma.)

It’s my opinion that UX can be very positive by creating more efficiency in our world for difficult problems. This might include creating more engaging and effective educational products for children, whether in app form or toy form. Also, lots of B2B products need UX to manage some of the legacy inefficiencies in their systems.

I don’t deny that all of these easy to use gifts of technology may have a downside, as it is more than my parents had to regulate for me when I was a teen. Please spend more time in your article talking more about something you know: How should parents should deal with kids using technology? How do we navigate when there are so many kinds of technology out there to manage? How can we influence children’s reward centers in the brain more positively? We can encourage our children to have wonderful real world experiences, spend more time outside with real people, and then the products we use will be secondary — but still more useful with less effort.

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