Are Anti App Addiction Policies/Laws the next big discussion in tech?

Sarthak Sharma on March 23, 2019

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I feel that it's more practical, to limit on the OS or device level. And educate on parental control measures. So that it can be applied collectively to all games.

After all PUBG here can easily be replaced by any form of entertainment (CS, DOTA, LOL, etc). Its just much more focused because it grew in popularity to dominate a segment of the gaming space.

Such limitations imposed by pubg. Is honestly just self-regulation. And in my opinion they are only self-regulating, so that they can avoid getting banned.

Meaning if there were no issue in the first place. They would gladly make it as addictive as possible, without regards to the user. (Which admits to both the problem, and that they are gonna to ignore it selfishly for commercial reasons)

What we should do alternatively is to encourage exit points. Something extra credits covered really well. (Which is greatly missing in PUBG)


I agree with your points. But while exit points are always good to have, I don't mind self-regulation. I think it should be encouraged. Google's Digital Wellbeing is a thing now for the same reason. Apps like Youtube Vanced have settings that enable you to set a reminder after every x unit of time. For example, my app stops playback and reminds me I've been watching Youtube for 45 minutes so I should consider taking a break. I think it's a simple but effective way to reduce screen time, especially for adults who tend to have more self-control than children.

And props for linking to the Extra Credits video. They always cover important topics with such finesse.


Yup, to be clear not against self regulation on games =)

I simply feel that it cannot be solely depended on.


Regardless of outcome, yes, this should be a discussion. Addiction is dangerous and digital addiction will only become more pervasive.

There will be a lot of bad takes on either side of the issue, but we need to have the conversation.


I believe there are also xp restrictions after 3 hours of gameplay and laws about this already in place in China for under 18’s.

Have large tech companies not already started preparing for this and already build in tools such as screen time restrictions and parental controls?


Yes, But not all of them. Also, this addiction is not only for kids but adults as well. 🤷🏻‍♂️


Oh I completely agree. My point was that if there is any legislation regarding app addiction etc, it will have to be softly worded, there is not quantifiable measure for it. As such large tech companies will be able to dismiss doing the right thing with a wave towards their screen time reports and the like.

Games in many ways are an easy target as they are mostly, not productive, and incredibly time consuming. Banning/time limiting them is a quick fix to that issue but ignores the underlying problems. Put a time cap on social media? Hold on that is my social life/only way I have of contacting friends and family/business/professional profile.

I agree it will need discussed, but how can it be implemented in a way which doesn’t unfairly restrict access to the positives of the software?

Also sorry this went a bit off the rails, was something I have been writing a report on recently.

I agree and know that Time Cap is not a long term solution and that's why we are having this discussion. 😊
So that we can find other effective ways or just stop implementing such practices in the first place.

The question is, can you create a successful user centric product without it being addicting?

The only “non addicting” apps on my phone are those which provide a service (banking, setting, camera, etc). Everything else is only there because it has a value to me in one way or another. Most of which is entertainment/procrastination.

Exactly, That's one should aim for. But as you said it hard as hell.

if there is any legislation regarding app addiction etc, it will have to be softly worded, there is not quantifiable measure for it.

Soft words and no quantifiable measures is a recipe for terrible laws. Law is a sledgehammer and will be used as such.


What philosophers do you enjoy? But yes, I agree, the government should teach people how to cope with their addictions and provide support instead of disdain and clamping down. The landscape of tech is so large it's hard to pass any effective regulation.


But also this should be a responsibility of us also. To make platform in way that solves problem not create new.


Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI has a pretty good warning message for players on their start screen.

Final Fantasy XI Start Screen - Warning to players about playing responsibly

As developers, we can only go as far as warning players they may be playing too much, but it's ultimately up to the player to decide how much they want to play and no mechanical process will limit a person who is truly addicted to a game or app.


drug addiction and substance abuse laws wouldn't be such a big deal.

Laws that have consistently done little other than making the world as a whole worse.

At least when it comes to adults, I don't think the government should get involved all that much. If you lose your job because you were playing too much World of Warcrack then that's your problem, not everyone else's.


If number of addicts increases, it can effect economy also. Unproductivite citizens can become a problem for others too.


Neither of which equal the damage caused to society by anti-drug laws, with the inevitable rise of violent crime and corruption that always arises. And I don't think removing personal responsibility for ones choices and actions is particularly good for society either.


Unpopular option: I do not think that ethics needs to fall on the developers to maintain. I'll work in healthcare, government, finance, whatever. Innately, I dislike the idea of some industries or software being 'bad'.

We already try to prevent bugs with the mantra that if we build a better app, the world will just build a better user. And then the user messes everything up in new, exciting ways.

Reducing playtime per account would just make people multiaccount. Reducing EXP gains over time will just make people move on to another game after diminishing returns kicks in. Devices can introduce features to increase mindfulness, but nothing will stop a motivated person from getting another device if the first one starts stopping them.

Why should software try to take on that responsibility to block people from doing what they will do anyway?

Add legislation to help addiction not ban the things that cause addiction. Add features rather than try to cure additions through software. You can't, as the owner of a product, both want people to love and use your app while also try to make them not love it too much. If someone has addictive tendencies, they will have that in more aspects than just your app, so I don't believe it's on you to try solving or preventing that.

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