By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — Hey parents and grandparents–are you concerned about the effect social media immersion may be having on your kids and grandkids? You should be.

Listen to Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, candidly discussing the underlying principle behind the creation of the world’s dominant social media outlet.

“That thought process was all about ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” Parker said in a recent interview.

sean parker Keller @ Large: Worried About Kids And Social Media? You Should Be

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean Parker speaks onstage during Global Citizen: Movement Makers at NYU Skirball Center on September 19, 2017 in New York City. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

“And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever,” he continued. “And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … More likes and comments. It’s a social-validation feedback loop.”

And Facebook and other instant-gratification social media apps and sites work like a charm, conditioning kids and adults to respond to their stimuli just as Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov trained dogs to respond over a century ago.

Pavlov’s findings have been employed ever since by advertisers and the media to grab your attention, hold it, and sell you stuff.

But with 88 percent of teens and 56 percent of kids age 8 to 12 having smartphones of some kind, this manipulation has entered a whole new era. And as Sean Parker himself puts it: “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

All the more reason for maximum caution to be applied by the adults in charge.

Share your opinion via email at, or you can reach me on Twitter, @kelleratlarge.


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