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Interesting but uneven book. On the pro side, the author clearly has spent a great deal of time and effort in her field, and has thought deeply about a number of issues. Her passion for her subject area is obvious and it gives the book a sincerity and vitality. Some sections are very interesting, especially discussions of how social interaction on the internet can act to normalize various behavior, the impact of digital life on sex, romance, pornography, and human relationships, and medical websites and interplay with whether we see ourselves as "well." The book is also very thought provoking as it explores how technology connects us in one sense, but leaves of alone in a very real, physical way.
The author's true mission in life is protecting children from digital harm - whether that is protection from online predators or it is protection from the side effects of technology. As a result, at least a third of the book catalogs the state of research on these issues and can, if you do not share the interest as passionately (and especially if you are not a parent), drone on a bit too long. That said, she highlights some studies that appear to be definitive but which are mostly ignored - including that children under the age of 2 should spend as little time as possible (and none, ideally) in front of screens because it can and does negatively impact their mental development, can slow language acquisition, and does not help them develop in any way whatsoever (basically, Baby Einstein and any app or show aimed at the under-2 set is a lie).
On the negative side and what made the book a bit annoying at times is that she comes across as overly idealistic. She makes sweeping statements about what should be done, but completely ignores whether or not those changes are feasible. She blithely discusses curating internet content in a way that ignores freedom of speech and proposes intricate and far reaching regulations for technology developers that seem at the very least legally tenuous. She also sometimes has flimsy evidence to back her claims. I give this somewhat of a pass because, as she rightly points out, controlled studies take years or decades to carry out (especially when you are studying developmental effects on children), and not only can we not afford to wait decades before making educated guesses and putting in place protections, but we also cannot do controlled studies on any technology that we believe is harmful (as you can't knowingly put child subjects in harm's way). That said, she sometimes takes this understandable paucity of hard facts as an invitation to opine without recourse to any evidence where there should be some. She also seems to cherry pick the opinions of others who support her without fully putting forth the opposing view, and she lost some real credibility when she referred to Stephen Hawking as the world's foremost physicist as an intro to his well-publicized (and not unfounded) warnings about technology as an existential threat.
In short, the book is very interesting despite its shortcomings and worth the time.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
It is amazing the quantity of useful topics , examples, concepts and tips. it's a must read for everyone who uses, technology or is emotionally linked to someone who uses computers or any digital gadget.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful