Always more connected

The appeal of screens

L’attrait des écrans

The Internet has it all: it’s easy to use, accessible at all times and almost everywhere and, especially, it offers an endless supply of applications, platforms and games that can easily monopolise our time and attention. In sum, it has become difficult not to lose control in front of this bottomless digital buffet!

Formidable marketing techniques

If we spend a lot of time online, it’s in part because web designers work hard to come up with new ways to grab our attention. An easy task since we are pleasure-seeking and curious by nature!

Indeed, they master their art so well that it has become difficult for us to resist the temptation of turning on our screens. Among the techniques used to entice us, we need only mention notifications, likes, files that self-delete (like those on Snapchat), and automatic playback of videos with a countdown (such as the default setting on Netflix). What’s more, there are algorithms created specifically to suggest content to adults, teens or younger children. You read that correctly: children are targeted! These algorithms can increase the time we spend online because the content they show us seems addressed expressly to us.

Unfortunately, what is great to draw our attention is not necessarily good for our well-being.


Several web marketing techniques are based on FOMO (the acronym for Fear of Missing Out), a term which refers to the fear of missing important news or events. This fear is common and stems from the perception that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, meaning others lead a better life, have more fun, or experience more enjoyable moments than us.

Social media relies a lot on FOMO to urge us to log on more often, whether by showing us what we missed since our last visit, sharing events others are interested in, or telling us our “friends miss us.”

People who regularly give in to this fear tend to spend a lot of time online, which increases their risk of developing problematic screen use, in addition to preventing them from fully enjoying offline moments.

Addictive video games

From Fortnite to Candy Crush, online video game options are endless. For the vast majority of people, these games are a source of entertainment. However, they pose a high risk of addiction and loss of control, mainly for teens. For younger children, too many hours spent playing video games can lead to poor motor skill development and other problems because they are growing quickly.

Video game use should be structured, especially when it comes to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) that allow you to play simultaneously with or against thousands, even millions, of people across the world (Fortnite, World of Warcraft, etc.). These video games are designed to:

  • be live and continuous (24/7);
  • constantly evolve, even when a player is offline;
  • reinforce interdependence between players;
  • offer rewards (skills, powers, weapons, etc.) in an unpredictable way, but proportional to the time spent online;
  • have no predetermined end or game over.

References are available upon request at [email protected].

Photo credit: Mikoto photography