What you didn't know about being addicted to your phone, in Adam Alter's new book.

Feel obsessed by Facebook feeds, emails and Instagram likes? Adam Alter, a professor at New York University, has just published a book explaining the psychological reasons for our addiction to our phones and interactive media. He blames Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, wearable tech, video games and virtual reality.

His book, called Irresistible – Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching, says that the reason for our addiction to phones is the access they give to email and social media. ‘You never know when you are going to get your next email and you don’t know which Instagram photo will attract a lot of likes or very few. It’s a portal to a very addictive world.’ The social networks give us access to millions of people in an instant, and whether these people are offering positive or negative feedback, we still crave it.

‘What we look for is a little bit of uncertainty because when we do get that flush of positivity just as a gambler does when they sit in front of a slot machine – that is really a very appealing experience and it is very hard to resist that.’


Alter explores how each social media business hires behavioral experts to tweak their pages to increase their addictiveness. For example, the Facebook ‘like’ button introduced years after the platform launched has made it harder for users to give up Facebook.

Does it matter that we are slaves to our screens? Of course. Children glued to technology do not develop real life communications skills creating a generation of struggling Millenials. The solution is to put the phone away. ‘Remove temptation,’ says Alter who acknowledges that abstinence is neither realistic nor desirable. ‘Whether that means between the hours of 5pm and 8pm you will make sure the phone is in your drawer.’

To buy the book, visit Amazon.

March 2017