Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

4.5 ★

Adam Alter’s “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” is a compelling examination of how modern technology has been designed to be addictive. Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing, combines research, case studies, and personal stories to illustrate his points.

Throughout the book, Alter describes the pervasive nature of tech addiction and its profound impact on our lives. This is a worthwhile read for anyone struggling with compulsive tech use. 

Key Highlights

Explore the highlights below to help you determine if this book is for you. 

The Science of Addiction

Alter begins by delving into the science behind addiction, explaining how behaviors can be as addictive as substances. He explores the neurological and psychological mechanisms that make certain technologies, like smartphones and social media, so hard to resist.

Behavioral Addiction vs. Substance Addiction

One of the key distinctions Alter makes is between behavioral addiction and substance addiction. He explains that while they differ in their triggers, both types of addiction share similar effects on the brain. This comparison helps us understand the serious nature of tech addiction.

The Role of Technology Companies

Alter exposes the deliberate strategies employed by tech companies to create addictive products. He discusses how features like infinite scrolling, notifications, and rewards systems are designed to keep us engaged for as long as possible.

The Impact on Mental Health

The book highlights the negative impact of addictive technology on mental health. Alter presents evidence linking excessive tech use to anxiety, depression, and a decline in overall well-being. He argues that the constant connectivity and engagement fostered by these technologies contribute to a range of psychological issues.

Societal Consequences

Alter also addresses the broader societal consequences of tech addiction. He examines how it affects productivity, relationships, and even our ability to concentrate and think deeply. The pervasive nature of technology has far-reaching implications for both individuals and society as a whole.

Steps Toward Recovery

In the final chapters, Alter offers practical advice for overcoming tech addiction. He suggests strategies such as setting boundaries, creating tech-free zones, and seeking professional help if necessary. These actionable steps provide us with a roadmap for regaining control over our tech use.

Benefits for People Struggling with Tech Addiction

Alter’s book has several clear benefits for those struggling with compulsive tech use. 

Enhanced Awareness

Alter’s detailed exploration of the mechanisms behind tech addiction helps us understand why we find certain technologies so hard to resist. This awareness is crucial for anyone looking to break free from their addictive patterns.

Insight into Corporate Strategies

By exposing the deliberate strategies used by tech companies to foster addiction, the book empowers us to see through these manipulative tactics. This knowledge can help us make more informed choices about our tech use.

Understanding the Impact on Mental Health

Alter’s thorough discussion of the mental health impacts of tech addiction can be eye-opening for those who may not have connected tech use with psychological well-being. Understanding these connections is a key step toward seeking change.

Practical Recovery Strategies

The book offers a variety of practical strategies for reducing tech dependence. From setting specific boundaries around tech use to creating tech-free environments, Alter provides actionable advice we can tailor to our individual needs. 

Encouragement to Seek Help

For those who find it particularly difficult to reduce their tech use on their own, Alter’s emphasis on the importance of seeking professional help can be encouraging. He normalizes the idea of needing assistance, which can be a crucial step for many in their recovery journey.


“Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked” by Adam Alter is an insightful and timely examination of the addictive nature of modern technology. Alter uses a combination of scientific research and practical advice to help us understand why we become hooked on technology. 

For those of us living with tech addiction, this book provides valuable insights. It’s also full of strategies that can help us break the cycle of dependence and create healthier relationships with technology. 

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