How To Get Ads To Not Pop Up On Online Math Learning

If you want all of your ads to stop appearing in your online lessons, here’s how to do it.

I know who I want to play poker with right now: No, it’s not my husband or even my mom. It’s mathematician-turned-poet Michael Mullaney. And I am planning on asking him to be my dealer because of just this one mathematical fact: 60++ = 60+.

This is because the math of that equation somehow convinces me that in the world of digital advertising — like the kind of advertising that triggers screens, buttons, pings, pop-ups, voice prompts and hyper-relevant ads — 60++ = 60. In fact, the 57 (!!!) apps in which I have recently found myself, trying to help them figure out this equation are 58+ iPhone apps, 58+ app-related YouTube videos, 58+ daily email newsletters that all contain “thumb-loads” of info, then 58+ Web links in which I would like to play a specific game.

Technically, something like this has always been the case: See, my perspective on any digital medium — be it Twitter, the Internet, TV, radio, literature, or the printed word — goes in one of three ways: 1. I think it’s fantastic and never stop fantasizing about how I could use it to deliver specific kinds of content. 2. It pisses me off because of all the advertising nonsense it causes me to look at.

But when a major algorithmically-enabled question pops up in my sidebar, that’s when the trigger comes into the picture. My brain’s not mine to share if you want. It belongs to the algorithm that you command. Now it’s just a matter of thinking about it.

I also owe a debt of gratitude to my husband. He’s a mathematician and has been learning to play poker well enough that he now makes a bunch of money. After years of the combination of frustration and amazement he once told me he’s on the brink of becoming, at the very least, “an expert.” When he sits down with me to play the actual game, we make a deal: I give him his pleasure every now and then and give him a break. He may claim the liberty to manipulate math algorithms while I let his brilliance just play out where it can.

He’s not exactly like Mullaney. When he does roll his dice, it tends to go to 12. He also has to be careful not to help any Big-Brother Internet initiatives. “I don’t really do anything ad-ish,” he explains, “so I’m more focused on keeping my brain and my computer free of annoying, distractible things.”

And he’s not alone. Others in our house seem to reflect that sentiment, sometimes even when their iPhones and iPads are in their pockets.

I have been playing with my kids and their friends. We all play games — i.e., math brain teasers or Sudoku or Tetris — and we always have our phone in our laps. What really sets these games apart is the dopamine surge triggered when we try to figure out how much bandwidth or how far we’ve got on a line or even try to win the prize. There’s almost a reward system built into these games, as you race to find the tiny blue sliver that can be yours.

And as for the other reason I want to talk to Mullaney, it’s because he recently said that as a parent you need to remember to ask a child, “Is what you’re doing good for them?” This one area is perhaps the biggest time cut-through that exists, and it was brought to my attention by friends who had their children come to them with complaints about something in an app or game.

I am supremely confident that this should be a universal question, although in the future I can imagine myself asking the following: What will you learn today? What will you solve if you examine your online behavior? What percentage of the population do you actually belong to? And these questions should really start at an early age, according to Sara Walroth, senior project manager at Digging Solutions, a digital media agency, because we can’t really take kids out to meet imaginary friends or ride imaginary ponies, right?

In truth, I would like to ask each of my kids what kind of content they find attractive, what kind of pictures they find interesting, and how they develop perspectives based on their own tastes. This level of self-reflection, Walroth suggests, may be a better way to protect your child from “being bombarded with ads and products that are not aligned with their overall preferences.”

So, back to this morsel of knowledge I’ve acquired. No matter what I do, I am never alone, even if at times I think I am.

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Jones, M. (2018). What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn.
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