Digital Detox

Is your life upside down if you forget your phone or misplace it? How much time do you think you spend on your electronic devices such as your phone, your ipad, your laptop? Mobilstatistics recently reported that the average person spends 90 minutes a day on his/her phone. That adds up to 23 days a year and 3.9 years over a lifetime of staring at a screen. Need to disconnect? Check these books out first!

Do you find yourself reaching for your phone first thing in the morning? All day long? Right before you go to sleep? You just might be addicted to it. Price has provided a manual for breaking addiction to your smartphone or any other wireless mobile device (jokingly, if slightly disturbingly, referred to as WMD). In the first part of the book, Price lays out the multiple ways this addiction can be harmful and result in anything from poor sleep to adult-onset ADHD. Probably most commonly, the devices commandeer our attention, keeping us from being present in the moment while also curtailing our productivity and creativity. The second half of the book is a 30-day guide to breaking up with your phone. Starting with downloading a usage-tracking app and ending with a 24-hour phast (phone fast), Price lays out a comprehensive, step-by-step solution to spending less time with your phone and more time doing the things you love. The style doesn't make for riveting reading, but as a self-help manual, this does the trick.

Kardaras, an addictions expert and professor of neuroscience, uses scientific studies and examples from his own practice to show the addictive powers of electronic gaming and social media, calling them electronic cocaine. He cites cases about teens who are avid gamers losing touch with reality and tests showing that attention and memory are shrinking in school children. Although not completely against the computer (he admits to writing his book electronically), his main concerns are the effects games have on the developing brains of younger users and the explosion of electronics in education. The constant reward seeking and escalating challenges cause an increase in dopamine, which translates into addiction, leading Kardaras to speculate on links to ADHD and waning sensory awareness as well as the influence of cyberbullying on rising crime and suicide rates. His tone is conversational rather than threatening, and his commonsense suggestions for combating this epidemic (public awareness, full disclosure by tech companies, emphasis on critical thinking in schools) are reassuring. Kardaras' eye-opening study is sure to spark discussions among parents and educators

In swinging for a Reviving Ophelia-type blockbuster, pop-culture journalist Sales has certainly chosen a flashpoint topic: the all-consuming social media that, with every favorite and like, builds a warped mirror maze around our nation's girls. Sales weaves in everything from the history of cameras and the sagging of the 1990s girl-power movement to cyberbullying and body dysmorphia, but the book's calling card is its refrain: the real-life teens (and preteens) whose hanging-at-the-mall interactions Sales transcribes with heartbreaking fidelity. Theirs is a 24-hour marathon of posting carefully edited pictures to fish for approval, deliberating over the call for nudes from boys whose Axe Body Spray can be smelled through the phone, and desperately wanting to be a cool girl rather than a prude. It's all here: MILFs, dick pics, smizing, fuckboys, doxing, belfies, and twatching, much of which plays out on social networks parents have never heard of. Despite Sales' tendency to panic, the girls profiled emerge as oddly heroic: struggling, persevering, and thriving through what Sales calls a kind of unease, a sort of buzzing, rushing, anxious state.

A highly readable and entertaining first look at how today's members of iGen--the children, teens, and young adults born in the mid-1990s and later--are vastly different from their Millennial predecessors, and from any other generation, from the renowned psychologist and author of Generation Me. With generational divides wider than ever, parents, educators, and employers have an urgent need to understand today's rising generation of teens and young adults. Born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s and later, iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. With social media and texting replacing other activities, iGen spends less time with their friends in person--perhaps why they are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. But technology is not the only thing that makes iGen distinct from every generation before them; they are also different in how they spend their time, how they behave, and in their attitudes toward religion, sexuality, and politics. They socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers. More than previous generations, they are obsessed with safety, focused on tolerance, and have no patience for inequality. iGen is also growing up more slowly than previous generations: eighteen-year-olds look and act like fifteen-year-olds used to. As this new group of young people grows into adulthood, we all need to understand them: Friends and family need to look out for them; businesses must figure out how to recruit them and sell to them; colleges and universities must know how to educate and guide them. And members of iGen also need to understand themselves as they communicate with their elders and explain their views to their older peers. Because where iGen goes, so goes our nation--and the world.

Before computers, we were three-dimensional. Now, Londoner Scott explains, thanks to smartphones, we are four-dimensional. He contrasts the freedom and anonymity of the early Internet with the continual and intrusive connections and exposure of today. Success has become synonymous with one's online clicks, hits, likes, and followers, power gained by popularity or notoriety on social media. Anything that is difficult to quantify, such as eccentric behavior, lacks online value unless it is objectified as a thing. This turns verbs from actions into subjects, turns unique experience into copied categories. Armed with the same reference points, our crowd-source minds corral the exceptional into the common. Only old-timers sleep without a cell phone flaring sounds and light into the dark room. Scott's witty, intellectual style rewards those who read closely, but readers might wish he confronted more basic issues: If replacing personal, unprocessed thought with organized data on screens is so bad, why does it permeate our lives? Why are we so hooked? And why is analysis and discussion about the digital realm dodged, especially by parents?

"An urgent and expert investigation into behavioral addiction, the dark flipside of today's unavoidable digital technologies, and how we can turn the tide to regain control. Behavioral addiction may prove to be one of the most important fields of social, medical, and psychological research in our lifetime. The idea that behaviors can be being addictive is new, but the threat is near universal. Experts are just beginning to acknowledge that we are all potential addicts. Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, is at the cutting edge of research into what makes these products so compulsive, and he documents the hefty price we're likely to pay if we continue blindly down our current path. People have been addicted to substances for thousands of years, but for the past two decades, we've also been hooked on technologies, such as Instagram, Netflix, and Facebook--inventions that we've adopted because we assume they'll make our lives better. These inventions have profound upsides, but their extraordinary appeal isn't an accident. Technology companies and marketers have teams of engineers and researchers devoted to keeping us engaged. They know how to push our buttons, and how to coax us into using their products for hours, days, and weeks on end. Tracing the very notion of addiction through history right up until the present day, Alter shows that we're only just beginning to understand the epidemic of behavioral addiction gripping society. He takes us inside the human brain at the very moment we score points on a smartphone game, or see that someone has liked a photo we've posted on Instagram. But more than that, Alter heads the problem off at the pass, letting us know what we can do to step away from the screen. He lays out the options we have address this problem before it truly consumes us. After all, who among us has struggled to ignore the ding of a new email, the next episode in a TV series, or the desire to play a game just one more time? Adam Alter's previous book, Drunk Tank Pink:And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behaveis available in paperback from Penguin"--.

Parents face the paradox of the faster, broader communication and access to information that technology brings leading to disconnection in the family as its members communicate less often face-to-face. Clinical psychologist and family therapist Steiner-Adair explores the changes in the dynamics of family life when there are fewer conversations around the dinner table, fewer play dates with children actually physically playing together, and fewer pretend games. Drawing on therapy sessions and interviews with parents, children, and educators, Steiner-Adair reports some children feeling neglected by parents enthralled by their cell phones or computers and parents feeling left out of their children's lives as they engage electronically with friends, games, and other distractions. Beyond any fears of the neurological threats of technology, Steiner-Adair points to the emotional costs of being worn down by constant communication and hasty responses and from being ignored by others as they communicate via electronic devices. She offers advice on how to develop a sustainable family that recognizes how pervasive technology is but focuses on the need to develop emotional connections between parents and children.

Setting aside the question of whether people enslaved by their mobile devices and the Internet would devote any time to reading this rangy self-help book by futurist Pang, those who do might discover that his approach to contemplative computing has merit. Taking a page from Buddhist thought, Pang presents eight principles (or steps) to help those hopelessly distracted by ­technology's siren call convert their switch-tasking to ­productive multitasking, adopt tools to protect their concentration, be more mindful in their involvement with social media, and recharge their minds and souls through restorative practices, including observing a DIY Digital Sabbath. Pang bolsters his advice with anecdotes of intellectual breakthroughs by great thinkers of the past, coupled with interviews with present-day scientists and tech-savvy professionals. These accounts, including the surprising use of social media by Buddhist monks and a lengthy analysis of Darwin's method of reflection through walking, are the best part of Pang's book, placing today's current tech addiction into a broader context of human history, development, and philosophical insight.