Adam Alter’s book opens with a chilling observation: Silicon Valley’s tech elite are super-strict about limiting their family’s screen time.
In this, he asserts, they are just like drug dealers refusing to ‘get high on their own supply’.
From hard-core porn to Candy Crush Saga, internet addiction is now respectable, and we’re losing the capacity to imagine any other way of being human. (The author admits that as a student his own life was derailed by obsessive online game-playing.)
But society’s debate about the morality of devising social media platforms, games and apps with strategically placed addictive hooks has scarcely even begun – despite increasing evidence of the power of social media to destroy our sanity and ‘pickle’ children’s brains.
But Alter is upbeat. We can replace our destructive behavioural addictions (and their evil twin, a goal-setting target culture) with something quaintly old-fashioned: the daily cultivation of simple good habits – in an environment that encourages them.