Don’t you ever feel like you need to take just one more look at your favorite app before going to sleep? If you do, that’s alright – it’s probably been designed to make you behave like that.



 “60 Minutes” Looks at How Silicon Valley Hacks Our Brains


Watch & Listen



  • exploit – make use of (a situation) in a way considered unfair or underhand
  • hooked – (informal) addicted
  • jolt – an abrupt rough or violent movement
  • dopamine – a compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including adrenaline
  • coincidence – a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection
  • compulsive (e.g. behaviour) – resulting from or relating to an irresistible urge
  • invest – (here) devote (one’s time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result
  • inadvertently – without intention; accidentally


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What are the similarities and differences between a slot machine and a phone?
  • How does dopamine work?
  • What basic human need does Facebook fulfill?
  • What makes users come back over and over again to such apps as Snapchat and Pokemon Go?
  • What does the number 76 refer to?
  • Does Harris believe that technology is neutral? Why? Why not?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

Harris brings ________ the example of Snapchat’s “Streak” feature that keeps a running count of how ________ days in ________  row you’ve interacted with each of your friends. This is a way of keeping users invested ________ the app, making sure they keep wanting to come ________ to it. ________ this way, it’s anxiety _______ much as rewards that keep us coming back to apps over and over. Snapchat isn’t the only one ________ does this. Pokémon GO has its own version of streaks, rewarding users for multiple days of play ________ a row.


Fill in the blank spaces with the words in CAPITAL LETTERS used in appropriate forms.

And these things work. We keep ________ COME back to our phones for more little ________ SURGING of dopamine. A 2016 study of smartphone use found that the average user has 76 phone sessions a day. These could be long sessions to ________ RESPONSE to an email or have a text ________ CONVERSE, or they could be short sessions in which you turn on your home screen to check for ________ NOTIFY. Either way, they’re triggering little internal ________ REWARDING each time. And Silicon Valley app ________ DEVELOPING know this.


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