How to free our kids - and ourselves - from tech addiction, with Gaia Bernstein

How to free our kids - and ourselves - from tech addiction, with Gaia Bernstein

In today's podcast episode, law professor Gaia Bernstein talks about the challenges of keeping control over our thoughts and actions, even when some powerful forces are pushing in the other direction.

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Each afternoon, kids walk through my neighborhood, on their way back home from school, and almost all of them are walking alone, staring down at their phones. It's a troubling site. This daily parade of the zombie children just can’t bode well for the future.

That’s one reason I felt like Gaia Bernstein’s new book was talking directly to me. A law professor at Seton Hall, Gaia makes a strong argument that people are so addicted to tech at this point, we need some big, system level changes to social media platforms and other addictive technologies, instead of just blaming the individual and expecting them to fix these issues.


Gaia’s book is called Unwired: Gaining Control Over Addictive Technologies. It’s fascinating and I had a chance to talk with her about it for today’s podcast. At its heart, our conversation is really about how and whether we can maintain control over our thoughts and actions, even when some powerful forces are pushing in the other direction.

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We discuss the idea that, in certain situations, maybe it's not reasonable to expect that we’ll be able to enjoy personal freedom and autonomy. We also talk about how to be a good parent when it sometimes seems like our kids prefer to be raised by their iPads; so-called educational video games that actually don’t have anything to do with education; the root causes of tech addictions for people of all ages; and what kinds of changes we should be supporting.

Gaia is Seton’s Hall’s Technology, Privacy and Policy Professor of Law, as well as Co-Director of the Institute for Privacy Protection, and Co-Director of the Gibbons Institute of Law Science and Technology. She’s the founding director of the Institute for Privacy Protection. She created and spearheaded the Institute’s nationally recognized Outreach Program, which educated parents and students about technology overuse and privacy.

Professor Bernstein's scholarship has been published in leading law reviews including the law reviews of Vanderbilt, Boston College, Boston University, and U.C. Davis. Her work has been selected to the Stanford-Yale Junior Faculty Forum and received extensive media coverage. Gaia joined Seton Hall's faculty in 2004. Before that, she was a fellow at the Engelberg Center of Innovation Law & Policy and at the Information Law Institute of the New York University School of Law. She holds a J.S.D. from the New York University School of Law, an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, and a J.D. from Boston University.

Gaia’s work on this topic is groundbreaking I hope you’ll listen to the conversation and then consider pre-ordering her new book. It comes out on March 28.

Matt Fuchs
Matt Fuchs is the host of the Making Sense of Science podcast and served previously as the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He writes as a contributor to the Washington Post, and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, WIRED, Nautilus Magazine, Fortune Magazine and TIME Magazine. Follow him @fuchswriter.
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Today’s podcast guest is Rosalind Picard, a researcher, inventor named on over 100 patents, entrepreneur, author, professor and engineer. When it comes to the science related to endowing computer software with emotional intelligence, she wrote the book. It’s published by MIT Press and called Affective Computing.

Dr. Picard is founder and director of the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing Research Group. Her research and engineering contributions have been recognized internationally. For example, she received the 2022 International Lombardy Prize for Computer Science Research, considered by many to be the Nobel prize in computer science.

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Matt Fuchs
Matt Fuchs is the host of the Making Sense of Science podcast and served previously as the editor-in-chief of Leaps.org. He writes as a contributor to the Washington Post, and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, WIRED, Nautilus Magazine, Fortune Magazine and TIME Magazine. Follow him @fuchswriter.
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