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Why Your Child Can’t Put Down Their Smartphone and Plays Online Games

Image1In the modern digital world filled with vibrant colors and interactive possibilities, children often find themselves completely absorbed in virtual reality, spending long hours glued to the screens of smartphones, tablets, and computers. Parents frequently experience feelings of guilt as they observe their children unable to tear themselves away from gadgets, yet it’s important to understand that this isn’t their fault. App and game developers intentionally employ specific psychological techniques known as “persuasive design” to create products that are nearly impossible to resist.

This phenomenon requires careful attention and deep understanding from parents to find a healthy balance between the digital world and real life for their children. Recognizing that a child’s fascination with gadgets isn’t a result of parental error but rather a consequence of deliberate manipulation by developers can help reduce feelings of guilt and focus on finding effective solutions.

Secrets of Persuasive Design

Persuasive design combines principles of behavioral psychology and modern technology aimed at changing human behavior. Its main goal is to create high motivation that requires minimal effort and consistently encourages users to actively participate. Key mechanisms used to achieve this goal include inducing a sense of pleasure through rewards (likes, points, achievements), simplicity of actions (endless scrolling, button pressing), and constant reminders in the form of notifications.


These principles enable developers to effectively capture the attention of children and adolescents, whose nervous systems are particularly sensitive to reward stimuli due to heightened activity in the brain’s pleasure center. Each time a child receives a digital reward, their brain releases dopamine, a chemical that induces feelings of pleasure, motivating them to repeat such behavior again and again.

How Persuasive Design Works in Different Environments

Social media widely employs persuasive design principles by offering users likes, hearts, and other visual signals of approval—something adolescents especially seek during identity formation. Endless scrolling of the news feed requires minimal effort, prompting users to spend more time in the app. Constant notifications about new posts, comments, and reactions create stress in children over the potential loss of connection with their social circle, compelling them to regularly return to the app to avoid this.

Video games actively employ the “near miss” effect, where players come close to defeating an opponent or achieving a specific goal but fall short. This creates a sense that success is guaranteed next time, motivating them to continue playing. Additionally, games reward achievements, levels, and items, encouraging players to improve and immerse themselves deeper into the gaming universe. Overall, persuasive design has been adapted from adult gaming systems into digital products for children, creating strong addictions that are hard to break.

Consequences and Ethical Concerns

Excessive use of digital products designed with persuasive design principles can lead to serious health and psychological issues for children and adolescents. Research shows that prolonged exposure to virtual reality increases the risk of anxiety, depression, attention deficit, obesity, and other disorders. Paradoxically, some psychologists assist companies in developing manipulative strategies to attract and retain a young audience, while others study the negative consequences of these practices and even establish specialized centers for treating internet and video game addiction disorders, such as anxiety and depression.


This contradiction raises serious ethical questions, as the American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization of psychologists in the United States, urges its members to refrain from work that could harm people, especially minors. Therefore, it’s crucial for parents to understand that the reason for their children’s addiction to gadgets lies not in their parenting mistakes but in the cunning psychological tactics employed by developers aimed at manipulating the child’s consciousness.

Esports – A Promising Future for Young Gamers

Despite widespread parental concerns about children’s excessive involvement in computer games and spending large amounts of time in virtual reality, new promising opportunities for professional growth and earning are emerging in this field. Esports—competitive gaming at a high level—is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide and evolving into a full-fledged industry with multimillion-dollar prize pools.

Professional esports players, showcasing the highest level of gameplay, earn hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars by participating in prestigious tournaments for games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Valorant, League of Legends, and others. Many esports fans and enthusiasts also find ways to earn income by placing sports bets with bookmakers such as Melbet. PK. This presents an excellent opportunity to boost interest in the game as well as earn based on one’s knowledge.