For the third part of our series on big tech, we're looking at the cognitive power of technology, the power it has to affect our thinking in ways we might not understand. There's been a lot written about the effect of smartphones on teenagers, and as you can see here, teenagers that spend more time on their phones have a greater percentage of depression, greater reporting of loneliness, anxiety, isolation. But it's not just teenagers and kids that are affected by big tech. All of us are being influenced on a daily basis in terms of our thinking.
You may think, for example, that when you do a Google search, you're pulling up exactly what you want to see, that you're in control of all these decisions. But you can see that the algorithm has a lot to do with how much time we spend on a web page. If you look at this research here, you can see that we spend exponentially more time with web pages that pop up at the top of a search than we do with those that might be at the bottom, and this is very important, because the top web sites have the power to affect our thinking about everything from purchasing decisions to voting decisions.
Some academic research has shown that as much as 80% of our voting decisions can be influenced by what we see on a website. Now, this effect, this cognitive power, is going to be put on steroids, a lot of industry experts believe, as smart speakers and personal assistants like Siri and Alexa come into the home.
You can see that almost 20% of US households now have a smart speaker, and smart speaker sales are actually growing by triple digits. This has led a lot of people to wonder if we shouldn't have a Food and Drug Administration for big tech. If you look back at the founding of the FDA in the US, it came about in the early part of the 20th century because of concerns about food safety scandals. And it may be that the growing economic political and cognitive power of big tech will warrant an FDA for technology. So watch this space.