The Art of Influence

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Do these look like headlines you’ve seen in your inbox or on signs on your way through town? Slogans, sayings, and eye-catching headlines are everywhere, vying for our attention. Each statement intrigues our mind and influences the way we think and act based upon the response it triggers inside our brain when we see it. 

A few years ago, Cambridge Analytica was in trouble with social media users and popular social media sites over how the users’ information was being marketed to companies. Cambridge Analytica wanted to have influence over the outcome of certain events (such as elections) in order to sway the direction of power in certain countries.

The way this company used the data of the users of these social media sites, was illegal; thus why they were in trouble. However, the means in which the data was used, caused impressionable minds to change the way they thought, and therefore acted. As they grew up seeing the influential messages, they began to believe the messages even if their parents or the nature of their environment told them otherwise. They grew up to elect new people, follow different movements, and make change in their countries.

The influence of the internet, social media sites, ads, and marketing materials can be a very good thing, but it can also influence our minds negatively. Parents need to do their utmost to teach their children discretion in a fallen world and never fail to pray for the hearts and minds of their children. The many ads that pop up while reading a blogpost, browsing for an item to buy, or just randomly scrolling the internet may have more of an impact upon you than you realize.

Here are a few tips to remember while online:

  1. Don’t trust a headline. Read the whole article before forming an opinion about a News headline you see.
  2. Don’t share over social media something you have not read in entirety. Do not share material that goes against your moral standards.
  3. Do your best to ignore ads on the side of the screen or pop ups in a blog. Teach your children to ‘X’ it out if there is that option. If you need it, you will search for it later. Remember these are still ads created in order to GET YOUR ATTENTION and distract you from the purpose you were online in the first place; and teach your children that as well.
  4. Download an Ad Blocker (something like AdBlock Plus) for your browser window to minimize the number of pop-ups.
  5. Change the settings in your browser to help minimize the number of personally directed ads. (Use this article to find out how to do that in Google Chrome: http://siouxlandmmc.com/is-privacy-really-private/
  6. Only share and add valuable content into the online social sector that you would be comfortable with your own children seeing.

We don’t have control over what is shared on social media, online, or the ads in our local stores; we can control how we react and use them in our own lives though. Prayerfully ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance, for His help in combating the influence of the world, and remember to turn to the Scriptures for formation of viewpoint and beliefs.

The following is research paper about the effects of advertising on adolescents:

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/Supplement_2/S152

This website offers guidance in deciding what you should consider before handing your child an electronic device:

https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/technology/labor-of-love-children-technology 

More information on the above mentioned story:

https://www.wired.com/amp-stories/cambridge-analytica-explainer/

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/17/the-cambridge-analytica-scandal-changed-the-world-but-it-didnt-change-facebook

How to use Google’s ‘Family Link’ with Chromebooks and Android Devices:

https://protectyoungeyes.com/how-to-set-up-family-link-parental-controls/ 

*Please note, that although we have found valuable information from an external web page for our blog post, we do not endorse all information, religious views and opinions posted on these third-party websites.