Book ReviewsCyberPsychology

Unlocked – Pete Etchells

Cyberpsychology / media-based psychological research is both under-funded and under-resourced. This is because, along with many other reasons,

  • CyberPsychology and media/digital technology-based psychological research is such a new field,
  • there are not enough academics conducting research across each area of digital and human interaction,
  • research results can be contradictory (for a number of reasons),
  • not enough of this research is leaking out into the public domain
  • digital technology is being invented and upgraded faster than research can be conducted and disseminated, and
  • it is relatively easy for journalists to pick up on research headlines and sensationalise the results to gain clicks, 

There are also not enough books or publicity about the findings from the research that is being conducted that are easy for the general public to consume. 

This is one of those books that every adult should read if they are interested in understanding more about their own and their children’s technology use.

It demystifies a number of concepts and debunks a lot of current debates, along with showcasing how a few recently released books (relating to human-technology interaction) have missed the mark and caused some unnecessary moral panic.

There are a number of academic concepts that Pete Etchells covers throughout the book and he refers to a number of research methodologies and results outcomes that can be slightly overwhelming and difficult to follow. But if you press through these explanations, there is a wealth of insights that are very worth absorbing. 

His last few chapters provide great practical ways to both view and engage with technology. He proposes that we use technology as tools that we have mastery over, rather than as masters that we have no personal agency over, or inherent ability to manage. 

He also provides an interesting perspective for parents around their children’s technology use and suggests some research-based strategies for a more effective way of managing a healthier relationship with technology. 

My only criticism of the Audible book is that the narration is very difficult to listen to. For me, it came across as tedious and patronising and distracted too much from the insights of the book. It’s highly unlikely I will build up enough motivation to listen to the Audible book again, and would recommend buying the physical book instead.

About Pete Etchells:

Pete is a professor of psychology and science communication at Bath Spa University. His research looks at the behavioural and well-being effects of playing video games. He is also interested in metascientific issues regarding best practices in digital technology effects research.

Adapted from his website: