cover image Unwired: Gaining Control Over Addictive Technologies

Unwired: Gaining Control Over Addictive Technologies

Gaia Bernstein. Cambridge Univ, $24.95 (220p) ISBN 978-1-00-925793-0

Seton Hall University law professor Bernstein skewers the tech industry for endangering minors, invading privacy, and engineering products that “manipulate our deepest human vulnerabilities” in her damning debut. Citing research on how certain features—such as Snapstreaks, Tinder swipes, and infinite scroll—lure users into spending more time online, Bernstein relates horror stories of kids who became addicted to their screens and is candid about her own struggle, as a mother of three, to limit screen time. “My son was not a heavy screen user. Still, many screens and different screen activities dominated his everyday life,” she writes. The author provides recaps of legal battles against the tobacco and processed foods industries, and outlines how similar strategies could be used against tech giants, possibly in class action lawsuits (like those filed against Facebook in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal). Bernstein isn’t short on solutions to curb overuse: she insists that “education policy about integration of technology into the classroom” be given more consideration, that tech companies implement digital warning labels, and that new products be developed with consumer well-being in mind (such as a phone for children that “incorporates some smartphone functions like Google Maps, but does not provide access to social networks and games”). This trenchant clarion call rings loud and clear. (Mar.)