Cover Image: REBOOT


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Member Reviews

The reason why I got this book was to get ideas on how to manage social media consumption. The title influenced my decision to grab and read this book. To my surprise, it's more than social media consumption. It's about the 'life cycle' of our digital persona following the 8 stages Erik Erikson outlined - psychosocial development from infancy to late adulthood. I enjoyed how Elaine Kasket relate these stages to our digital life. She posed thought-provoking questions that are worth pondering. At the end of the book, she discussed how to manage the consumption of digital information, which made me get what I was looking for, however, I wished she expounded it more. But then, this book is great about life in the digital age. A must-read for parents and to everyone who wants to know the implications of sharing our life on social media from childhood to adulthood. thank you Elaine Kasket, Elliott & Thompson, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book and give my honest thoughts.

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This book is not bad; but it is important to know that the description is not totally accurate and if you are like me, you will be disappointed not so much by what the book is, but what it isn't.

In the description of this book, it says, "So how can we reclaim our power and feel less helpless at every stage of our lives?" That's the reboot part of the title. That alone drew me into this book because I too feel like I have given all power over to technology and feel compelled to share every detail of my life online. So if this book gives me tools to reclaim our lives from the tech-obsessed world, count me in!

EXCEPT, this book isn't about that. It is a psychological description, broken down by different stages of development, of *how* technology has taken control of our lives. It never actually gets to the "so what can you do about it" part.

That's where my letdown is. I did genuinely enjoy reading about the often insidious and underhanded way psychology is used by the tech world in pulling us in at every stage of development. But what I wanted was a reboot -- a book about how to pull out of that world.

So if you go into this book knowing what it does and does not cover, I think you will enjoy this book because this is such an important topic for this era of our lives.

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I finished Elaine Kasket's Reboot a week ago now and it is still echoing round my brain.

I remember it when I see all the reels on Facebook full of children who have no say in their antics (and often their normal, toddlerish naughtiness) being broadcast to millions of people in perpetuity.

And I remember it when I am asked whether I want to accept all cookies on a website and, with a sigh, I remind myself not to be lazy, and to take the extra 30 seconds to choose essential cookies only.

But Reboot is about so much more than this. It's about our digital existence from before birth to beyond death. It's about the contradictions of technology that oversees so much of our daily activity in a way that can feel very creepy, but whose surveillance can be of great benefit, for example in helping older people to stay independent in their home.

It's about how technology can bring us together (as we saw so clearly in the recent pandemic) and how it can wedge itself between people, so parents and children, and relationship partners spend less time looking at each other and more time engrossed by the addictive qualities of phones and games.

Kasket blends her personal experience of technology as a parent and partner with a scientist's view. As a Psychologist and Psychotherapist she sees the negative impact of an over-absorption in technology in some of her clients. Yet she recognises that there are situations when technology can reassure and support us in our life roles as parent, partner or employer, and even as the child of an older parent.

I've changed how I do things in my cyber life as a result of this book. I've always been a bit blase - a bit "what's the point; the cat's out of the bag" about my social media life. "Oh, I've got nothing to hide anyway" I've often said. But two things Kasket discussed really stopped me in my tracks.

One was the tale of her own daughter who was able to tell Kasket that she did not want her image shared on social media. I realised how so many of us share photos of our loved littlies, not to gain millions of views on social media, but to keep family and close friends up-to-date. And those children get absolutely no say (even if a parent asks, do they really understand what posting on social media means?), especially as private setting rarely mean complete privacy. I decided that I would not share any childrens' photos on social media even though I would have parental permission to do so. It doesn't seem fair.

The second was the discussion on what happens with our digital presence after we die. I faced this in a very practical sense when my Dad died last year. At 89 he was still a frequent user of technology, and had many social media accounts, email, and a long list of services he had subscribed to. I made a very quick decision to close down every account I could. Dad felt that death was death, and I wanted his digital life to reflect that. But even after that experience I never thought about my own digital life. After reading Reboot I have made sure that my will says to close and remove all my digital accounts. And I've ticked the right boxes with Meta so that whoever is left behind simply needs to confirm I have died. I've got nothing to hide. But I want physical death to be digital death too - as much as that will be possible in (hopefully) several decades to come.

If you love technology, read this book so you're using tech with eyes wide open. If you worry about tech read this book to see if your fears are something you really need to be concerned about, If you hate tech, read it to see the benefits of some tech alongside the privacy challenges it also offers. Basically, if you use tech, read it.

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In Reboot, Elaine Kasket uses Erik Erikson's stages of human development to deftly analyze them against the modern world of technology in fascinating and thought-provoking ways. From social media and virtual communication to surveillance and genetic testing, Kasket illustrates how technology can lead to psychological angst or real physical danger but also how it can be a tool for better living. Either way, reading her well-researched and fluently written book will definitely give one pause.

Whether you believe technology aids in human progress or are an avowed Neo-Luddite, Kasket's book will give you much to ponder about how we use and misuse technology.

Jodi Hausen
award-winning journalist

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