Irresistible: Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching – Review

Source: Gavin Francis – The Guardian 26th Feb, 2017

The school near the GP practice where I work held an internet safety evening recently, subtitled “How to Keep Your Child Safe Online”. It was in the school hall, hosted by police officers, and explained the role of something called the “Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre”. The blurb on the leaflet promised parents of children between five and 11 would learn more about the dangers of the internet, and in particular, social media. I’m not sure when it became normal for kids to have to cope with malicious online messages and be savvy about paedophiles masquerading as peers. In Irresistible, Adam Alter makes the frightening case that even without these hazards, modern connectivity threatens the health of not just our children, but everyone.

A child I knew of killed herself after a humiliating post was shared widely around her school. An adolescent patient told me that he wakes three or four times each night to check his phone for messages and struggles to concentrate in class. Last week a social worker told me that children in an “at-risk” family were being neglected – the mum lying on the sofa playing with her phone while the kids put themselves to bed. I know a six-year-old who walks with his hands held to his chest, thumbs blurred by movement, adopting his dad’s habitual posture, though he doesn’t yet have a phone.

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