Gaining Control Over Addictive Technologies

(Cambridge University Press, 2023)

Our society has a technology problem. Many want to disconnect from screens but can’t help themselves. These days we spend more time online than ever. Some turn to self-help-measures to limit their usage, yet repeatedly fail, while parents feel particularly powerless to help their children.

Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies shows us a way out. Rather than blaming users, the book shatters the illusion that we autonomously choose how to spend our time online. It shifts the moral responsibility and accountability for solutions to corporations. Drawing lessons from the tobacco and food industries, the book demonstrates why government regulation is necessary to curb technology addiction. It describes a grassroots movement already in action across courts and legislative halls.

Groundbreaking and urgent, Unwired provides a blueprint to develop this movement for change, to one that will allow us to finally gain control.

Reviews & Awards

“Selected by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) as a finalist for the PROSE award in legal studies.
Association of American Publishers (AAP)

“Selected as a Notable Privacy and Security Book of 2023” (Read More)
Privacy + Security Academy

“Selected to the Notable Privacy and Security Books of 2023 List. ” (Read More)
Teach Privacy

“Selected by the Association of University Presses for the 2023 University Press Week Gallery.” (Read More)
University Press Week

“Selected by American Book Fest as a finalist for the 2023 Best Book Awards in the Business-Technology category.
American Book Fest

“Unwired was nominated as a Next Big Idea Club Must Read Book.” (Read More)
The Next Big Idea Club
Read and listen to Gaia’s Next Big Idea Club Book Bites

“Bernstein skewers the tech industry… in her damning debut… This trenchant clarion call rings loud and clear.” (Read Full Review)
Publisher Weekly

“Mixing expertise and passion [Unwired] sets an agenda to rein in the tech behemoths that have run rampant for years.” (Read Full Review)

“Unwired is neither a screen-junkie confessional nor a recovery handbook. Bernstein regards framing the issue as ultimately one of self-control as part of the problem…. Bernstein is shrewd about the political maneuvers and public relations options available to industries challenged for doing harm to the general welfare.” (Read Full Review)
Inside Higher Ed

“Unwired is not, and does not aspire to be, a comprehensive account of the screen-addiction phenomenon. It exists to be used: an agenda for social change through legal action. It is a knife, not a brush. But it’ll be of much more than academic value to those of us whose parenting years were overshadowed by feelings of guilt, frustration and anxiety, as we fought our hopeless battles, and lost our children to TikTok and Fortnite.” (Read Full Review)
New Statesman

“[Bernstein] ..doubts that addicted users … can will themselves out of their habits. Instead, she argues, regulatory intervention of the supplying corporations will be necessary.” (Read Full Review)
Harvard Magazine, Off the Shelf

“Government intervention helped drastically reduce tobacco use. Gaia Bernstein argues that it should do the same for another addictive activity: technology use. ..We do not have to go back to a world of no online connection, she writes, but “[g]oing forward means finding a better balance between our technologies and ourselves.” (Read Full Review)
Harvard Law Bulletin

“In this important and powerful book, Gaia Bernstein shows us how to reclaim our power and our humanity from the Big Tech cartel that have intentionally addicted us to their devices and platforms.”

Nicholas Kardaras, PhD, Author of ‘Glow Kids and Digital Madness,’ and former Clinical Professor, Stony Brook Medicine

“Gaia Bernstein’s Unwired offers a compelling roadmap for tackling one of our most pressing problems: the irresistible pull of technology. Over the course of our lives, we and our children will spend between fifteen and twenty years glued to our screens. As Bernstein shows, though, there are regulatory remedies at hand to help us retain our time and our wellbeing.”

Adam Alter, Professor of Marketing and Psychology, NYU Stern School of Business, author of ‘Irresistible and Drunk Tank Pink’

“Unwired is a compelling, accessible, and vital intervention into the overuse of technology. Instead of offering overly simplistic self-help strategies that are doomed to fail, Professor Bernstein rightly targets the manipulative design of technologies and the need for us to work together to hold the tech industry accountable. This book vividly blends personal stories with the latest research and lessons from history to paint a clear picture of our struggle with screens and what it’s going to take to improve things. Everyone should read this book.”

Woodrow Hartzog, Professor of Law at Boston University and author of ‘Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies’

“Inviting and intelligent, Gaia Bernstein’s extraordinary book masterfully combines honest personal reflections about her experiences with the creep of digital tech together with a sobering academic account of our collective public struggles to deal with technologies designed to addict, manipulate, and even control our behavior. Throughout, Bernstein maintains a can-do attitude that inspires change.”

Brett Frischmann, The Charles Widger Endowed University Professor in Law, Business and Economics, Villanova University School of Law

“Unwired is a powerful rejoinder to voices that would seek to minimize the threat technological manipulation poses to human freedom. But Gaia Bernstein goes beyond a mere accounting of the harms and proposes systemic changes that can help us take back control. Comprehensive in its scope and clear-eyed in its analysis, Unwired is an indispensable guide to the landscape of digital technology reform. Anyone who cares about the future of technology should read this book.”

James Williams, author of ‘Stand Out of Our Light’

View Gaia’s