What are Persuasive Technologies and How to Overcome Them

Have you ever looked up from scrolling on your phone and realized an hour has gone by? That hour you set aside for homework unintentionally getting taken over by watching Tik Tok videos. This scenario might feel all too real to you, and for a lot of students at Ohio State.

We use technology to connect with others, complete our academics and work assignments, and stream, play, listen and scroll for hours a day.

With such a great need for technology in our day to day lives, it can very easily feel like we are not in control of our usage. Rather than us using technology as a tool to benefit our personal and professional goals, it can feel like technology is in control of us. If you have ever thought this, your suspicions are absolutely correct.

Tech companies have strategically designed their products with persuasive technologies to keep us on their platforms for longer.

Persuasive technology is broadly defined by Wikipedia as, “technology that is designed to change attitudes or behaviors of the users through persuasion and social influence, but not necessarily through coercion.”

This means that platforms like social media, streaming services and apps are built with persuasive technology specifically designed to change users’ behaviors to meet the platform’s goals. These unique triggers use persuasion to get us to spend more time clicking, scrolling and ultimately using their product.

To improve our relationship with technology and our overall digital wellness, we need to find balance with our usage. Increasing our awareness of persuasive technologies and how they work can help us to identify tools to set up helpful boundaries to combat their influence.

The good news is that a lot of these features can be adjusted or turned off completely. Below you will find some examples of persuasive technologies and how to overcome them:

  • Red Dot Notifications – that little red notification at the corner of your app is strategically designed to grab your attention. Studies show that the color red triggers our brain to think there is a sense of urgency, in these cases clicking into the app and seeing what the notification is.
    • In your app settings you can remove the notification badge. Once you remove the badge, little red dots will no longer be all over your screen reducing the temptation to click into apps.
  • Push notifications like vibrations, buzzing, flashing.
    • Intentionally set your notifications based on your needs. Go through your apps and determine if you really need to be receiving push notifications from all of them. The more you limit, the less tempted you will be to pick up your phone at every buzz or beep.
  • Likes/Comments – feeding into our need for connections and rewards, we are motivated by what others think about us
    • Likes and comments play into our natural social instincts. By turning off comments we can reduce our motivation for external gratification and pressures to hit streaks and receive record likes from our peers.
  • Infinite Scroll – the never-ending supply of content online that automatically loads to keep us engaged.
    • Set up timers to limit the amount of time you spend on your favorite apps. In your app settings on your phone you can manage timers and set limits that work better for your lifestyle.
    • Similarly, on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you can turn off autoplay. Autoplay is when the next episode automatically starts. If you find yourself stuck in front of the tv, turn autoplay off in our profile settings.

Spending a few minutes to tailor your devices and apps to your needs can help you gain back your attention, time, and overall make your devices work smarter for you.

If you are in need of support as it relates to your tech usage, check out the many helping resources on campus:

-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator


Persuasive Technology (humanetech.com)

5 Tips for Fact Checking Health Content Online

Technology is an amazing thing. 24/7/365, you have information available at the tips of your fingers. Which is helpful when trying to find information related to your health or the health of a loved one.

Whether you are searching on Google, YouTube, Reddit, TikTok or another social media platform, the challenge is to find a reliable source for the information you seek.

Billions of people use social media each day for news, information, to connect socially with others. And all of these users are contributing to the unimaginable amount of content being uploaded every minute.

Some of this content is valuable and helpful but the accessibility of the internet has created a platform for users to post information that is misleading or just not true. Social media gives everyone a voice to post whatever information they want, no expertise required.

Have you ever watched a TikTok and thought to yourself, “Is this statement/statistic/fact true?” You are not alone, and this critical thinking skill will help with fact checking the information you are consuming online. Read the below tips for finding reliable information online:

  1. Check the web address

Who owns the website or social media page and who is responsible for posting content? Read thoroughly to determine who the owner is and their credibility. In general, you can find trusted health content on both government (.gov) and university/college (.edu) websites. Non-profit groups (.org) can also provide reliable health information. But .org web addresses can be tricky because .org can be used by both for-profit and non-profit businesses.

  1. Determine the purpose

Determine what kind of account and post you are looking at, is this someone’s personal opinion, an advertisement, a news report? For websites, go to the “About Us” page and do some reading. This page will explain the purpose of the website, which should be able to provide education and awareness. If the purpose is to promote a product or service, the health information may not be reliable.

Social media influencers posting health advice are generally not a qualified professional, fact check their post against a credible source to get the full story.

  1. Assess the evidence

Just because something is viral or has a high number of likes, shares, and comments does not make it accurate or true. Websites and social media pages posting health facts or figures should provide solid evidence of that content. They might cite published, peer-reviewed articles or other sources to learn more information. If they don’t cross check the information with another reliable source.

  1. Assess the reviewer

When was this information reviewed last? Websites should state who reviewed the health information it presents; it will list the person’s medical credentials (such as MD or RN).

Does the social media post direct you back to where they found this information or what medical professional they are referencing? If not, cross check the information.

  1. Check the date

Websites with health content will list when this content was last updated or reviewed to ensure accuracy. Make sure this date is recent because health information needs to be current.

When finding information online, use your critical thinking skills to find reliable sources to help inform your health decisions. For more information, visit the National Institutes of Health – how to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet webpage.


-Jordan Helcbergier, Wellness Coordinator