One line overview:

A great insight to all the problems that the internet brings us.

So being intrigued by all things online and technology, I saw Mary Aiken’s book calling to me in Waterstones. The main basis of the book is how human behaviour changes online, things like cyber-bullying, body shaming, taking part in illegal things (like hacking, buying drugs etc) and becoming addicted to endless scrolling.

I was keen to read it as I will confess, I am a bit of an online addict, from constantly browsing things like Twitter to constantly visiting tech news websites (Like 9to5Mac, gsmarena and BBC), so I was ultimately curious what Aiken included in the book.

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It starts on quite a hilarious topic of fetishes, but I won’t touch on this, safe to say it’s just hilarious. Next chapter is on addiction games, from Candy Crush to World of Warcraft and games alike, whereby some gamers need to go to specialised rehab centres as they become so addicted to online games. Some, unfortunately were that addicted to games that it ultimately cost them their lives as they continuously played for +24 hours and got so involved in games, forgetting realities.

Another chapter touched on how technology is currently affecting children right now, especially babies. Aiken brings in an experience she saw on a train in that a mum was feeding her newborn but she was instead staring at her phone playing candy crush rather than looking at her baby. In addition, she talks of all the current apps and accessories for phones and tablets that can help babies ‘develop better’ or ‘make them smarter’ when it is in fact all bullshit. One scary item that is particularly touched on is a kids playmat/play centre thing, whereby an iPad is placed into it, where the baby is then placed. I just couldn’t believe something like it exists and was marketed towards helping babies, but in actual fact the poor baby is stuck in this thing constantly staring at an iPad.

The two following chapters were based currently on children and the internet and how this is allowing unfiltered access to everything from explicit material to illegal material to generally everything that kids should not be seeing online like serious violence. This is also then discussed within the context of what internet service providers, parents, schools and companies like Facebook/Google should be doing to educate kids about risks online and what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

This then develops into a chapter on how the internet is changing the perception of children and teenagers, how having a real world and online presence can be like having two personalities: one in which you are confident, always showing yourself off to the world (selfies etc), whilst in real life are quite shy and don’t want to talk with others. In addition, this adds into other factors such as body dysmorphia, in which everyone is looking better than you online than yourself or they constantly critique their own bodies. This for me was something I never really thought about in regards to a book about people’s personalities changing online, but then I realised how big of a factor it is playing in the real world, especially that almost every teenager is online these days.

Other chapters discuss how romance is changing in the face of the internet and how people can find one another almost immediately, or how people in relationships are looking elsewhere into the internet for people to cheat with, through the likes of Tinder and other immediate, location based dating apps. The penultimate chapter then details ‘cyberchondria’ and how people are diagnosing themselves through websites like WebMD or being certain they have a chronic illness when in actual fact, symptoms just happen to be the same. This chapter interested me a lot, as almost everyone I know (even doctors!) diagnose themselves through the internet, but again, I didn’t realise how much of an impact this can have. For example, people who are consistently visiting their doctor about a disease they don’t have or want an explanation for broad symptoms can really affect themselves mentally, as well as the doctors (and surgeries, hospitals etc), in that unnecessary appointments are being filled, where people in need could do with those appointments.

The final chapter then covered what most people don’t know about the web, the dark web, the bit you can’t find through Google. It covered pretty much all aspects of the dark web, from Silk Road to PirateBay to money laundering using kids to other illegal activities. It wasn’t particularly thrilling, but the final chapter did explain a lot of the dark web that I assume many readers didn’t know.

Thinking it over, the book was awesome. I did love it, it covered a nice mixture of things I knew fairly well as well as other topics that I had no idea or never even comprehended. So all of you that do have an interest in all things technology, do pick this book up, it’s definitely worth a read.

Overall: 8/10