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Tech Shock: four unmissable podcasts from season 3

Vicki and Geraldine look back on the latest Tech Shock season, the themes of which include misinformation, pornography and the links between gaming and gambling, and talk about how they intersect with Parent Zone’s wider work. 

Dr Charles Kriel on disinformation

Dr Charles Kriel kicked off the season by discussing the connection between the wellness industry and conspiracy theories and how parents are often the targets of disinformation efforts. 

“Conspiracy theories are often framed as protecting children, and that appeals to parents, especially when they’re in a vulnerable situation,” says Geraldine. “And once people get hold of these theories, it becomes difficult to relinquish them.” 

Natalie Foos and Marc Feldman on VoiceBox’s Munchausen by Internet report

A highlight of the season was a podcast on the VoiceBox report into a relatively new phenomenon – Munchausen by Internet, or faking disorders online. 

The issue is complex. Is it trolling, or a genuine disorder? 

Whatever, it’s widespread and young people are acutely aware of it. But there is sometimes a reluctance to discuss it for fear of undermining support for mental health online. That reluctance, Vicki says, is ultimately unhelpful.

Dr Elly Hanson on pornography

One of the themes of the season was pornography. Dr Elly Hanson, leading researcher into pornography’s impacts on young people, was among the guests.

Vicki notes that critiques of pornography are often labelled “mumsy” although, in reality, pornography has gone beyond an argument between liberalism and repression. “One side has said “sexual freedom at all costs” and the other “market freedom at all costs”, and somehow the pornography industry is allowed to get away with extreme violence and misogyny,” Geraldine says.

Commercial pornograhy sites should be seen as data businesses, manipulating behaviour on the basis of constant A/B testing, they conclude: pornography manipulates sexual scripts for profit. 

David Zendle on gaming and gambling

David Zendle explained how the trend towards microtransactions and loot boxes, and games’ broader evolution to money making platforms, is damaging children. 

“Some of the exploitative financial mechanisms that have been perfected in the gaming world will move into the metaverse,” Vicki says. 

“The industry is really agile and the issues are complex and we need a regulator who understands what’s going on,” adds Geraldine. 

 Tech Shock will return in September 2022. In the meantime, listen to all available episodes here.

Listen to episode 16 of Tech Shock season two: Vicki & Geraldine

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