Ep. 65: Is Technology Ruining Your Relationships at Home?: Adam Alter

Can’t get your kids off their laptops or smartphones? What about your spouse? Does it sometimes appear that he or she is more in love with technology than with you?

Welcome to the age of behavioral addiction, where half of the American population is addicted to at least one behavior. We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. Half of us would rather suffer a broken bone than a broken phone, and millennial kids spend so much time in front of screens that they struggle to interact with real, live humans.

In Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, psychologist and professor Adam Alter tracks the rise of behavioral addiction and explains how we can harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play—and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, as well as on the health of our relationships.



5:00 ,Why technology is designed to be addictive

6:00  The “rewards” that come from social media, our phones and technology in general

7:14  Suzanne describes how her own kids were not raised in a time where tech inundated the average household and how parents now have to contend with raising kids in a technology-centered culture

7:50-9:57  What’s lost in the parenting experience as tech continues to explode

10:00-11:15  Why children and teens are especially vulnerable to technology addiction

11:15-13:15  Parents are also addicted to technology, which is why it is hard to enforce rules with kids when it comes to screen time

13:15  How parents use screens as a babysitter and why kids need to learn delayed gratification

14:08  Suzanne and Adam talk about the days before technology and how families used to fill that downtime with other things such as music, games, reading, etc.

14:50  Grappling with boredom and downtime is an important life tool. Adam talks about how creativity and ingenuity is fostered by making your own entertainment.

15:33-18:40 Tech titans promote their products publicly, but typically don’t let their kids use them in their own homes.

18:40 What makes people want to keep “clicking” which includes “rewards” and social engagement

20:20 The difference between using technology and doing something like reading a book. He explains “natural stopping points” and how technology does not have natural stopping points because of bottomless newsfeeds, Netflix/YouTube utilizing “post play” and how these changes have made it hard to control technology addiction.

22:55  Adam talks about how reading books is more demanding of the brain and how tech devices put us in a trance-like state.

24:50 If you don’t remove the tool, you’re going to have constant interruptions in your personal time/life with your spouse.

25:30 How phones are distracting, degrade your relationships and how they affect your relationships

28:00 How to work towards stopping tech addiction and how their should be certain times of the day where it “looks like the 1950s” and create a tech-free environment

30:00-Both parents/partners need to be on the same page regarding their policy with tech and phones

31:30-34:12 Adam explains the difference between real human connection and fake connection and why millennials struggle

34:15 -37:10 Adam gives his advice to people who want to break their addiction to devices

37:20  Suzanne and Adam convey how critical it is to keep your phone out of your vicinity at certain times in the day, how liberating it is to take a technology break and how it improves your life.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, a coach, and a podcast host committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.