(CNN) -- Just like sugar and fat in junk food, technology was designed to keep users coming back for more. While researchers have begun looking into whether technology addiction is a real problem, some computer scientists revealed how they keep consumers hooked on tech. Here's a hint: not turning off the next episode of Stranger Things may not be a matter of self control so much as it's other overpowering forces at play.
Behind games, apps and social media sites, developers are working to make sure their products feel essential to consumers, often even "hijacking," as one behavior scientist found, an individual's sense of good judgement. For example, teens who care about peer validation may be more tempted to constantly check their phones and social media accounts for feedback from Facebook friends or Instagram followers.
However, tech companies have argued their products are good for people to use because they're catering to what people want, and those products are always being tweaked and updated to improve user experience and accessibility.
That argument may be more difficult to back up, though. More industry insiders have begun coming forward to expose digital manipulation put in place by technological products. For example, in 2017, a leaked Facebook internal memo described how the social network had worked to identify teens' feelings of insecurity, worthlessness and the need of a "confidence boost."
CNN listed several individual technological aspects that were designed to keep consumers using a product, but that can be combated with the right know-how:
• Autoplay. Autoplay is the media equivalent of a buffet—when your shows keep playing, you keep watching, much like the temptation to overeat at an all-you-can-eat event. One way to prevent getting sucked in to another episode is to disable the autoplay feature, which is usually automatically enabled through providers like Netflix or Hulu.
• Notifications. CNN reports notifications that cause vibrations or 'pings' and bring up a message on mobile devices can become habit-forming. Some programs, like YouTube, found that when notifications tell you to do something like "Watch now!" users respond immediately. Researchers found that these notifications that issue calls to action not only interrupt daily life, but they also cause stress in users. Most apps, like Facebook and Twitter, allow users to disable or customize notification alerts, so that only information users desire is pushed through to mobile devices.
• Snapchat Snapstreaks. Snapstreaks on Snapchat begin when two users 'snap' each other for three days straight. A psychological principle known as the rule of reciprocation may behind humans' need to respond to a positive action with another positive action. It's the same principle behind liking a Facebook user's post after they've liked yours. CNN recommended helping kids place less value on Snapstreaks by giving them specific times during the day they are allowed to send snaps, such as after chores or homework are complete. If the streaks get out of hand and become detrimental to children or families, parents may have to decide whether or not to ban the app altogether.
• Randomness. Because apps are constantly updating instead of adding new content at set times throughout the day, people face the temptation to constantly check for updates and new information. Tech companies cash in on this by using "variable rewards" that keep users constantly searching for notifications on who has sent a friend request or liked a post. This technique can be combated by turning off notifications or customizing them to only 'ping' with information you want to be alerted about. Users can also set alarms to check notifications at specific times so they're not constantly picking up mobile devices to look for updates.
• In-app purchases. Companies keep app users for mobile games coming back for more by luring them in with free downloads and then offering in-app purchases to enhance the experience. Chances are, the more users play a game, the more money they will spend on purchases within the game. That's a bigger problem now that many gaming apps connect with Facebook, so users can see how their friends are doing, and developers can tailor specific products to users based on the times they're most likely to purchase them. CNN recommended paying a bit more for full, paid versions of games because in the long run, they could end up costing less than free downloads that offer in-app purchases.