Born Digital: The Story of a Distracted Generation by Robert Wigley

Born Digital: The Story of a Distracted Generation is the debut book by Robert Wigley. It looks at how our use of technology is affecting Generation Z and raises interesting questions on the impact it’s having on society.

Our attention has been hijacked by the tsunami of devices, games and social media which now dominate our lives. This new technology brings efficiency, cost-savings and instantaneous information. But when our attention is the currency being traded by big tech firms, what price are we willing to pay for convenience?

Addiction, anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, stunted empathy development, troubled relationships, fake news, propaganda and even threats to democracy are just some of the challenges new technology presents. Antitrust law has failed to prevent the emergence of a few dominant big tech platforms and regulation has not kept pace with surveillance capitalism.

The internet was created on the assumption that all users are equal, but children and the vulnerable are not. In Born Digital, Robert Wigley distils the mountains of available research on the subject and brings to bear his wealth of institutional experience to present a roadmap for society to radically and urgently reset its relationship with technology – for the sake of future generations.

Much has been written about the various harms technology causes, but Born Digital suggests practical solutions based on a businessman’s experience.

Robert Wigley backs young entrepreneurs in cutting-edge technology businesses and is the Chairman of UK Finance. He sits on the UK’s Economic Crime Strategic Board, co-chaired by the Chancellor and the Home Secretary.

During 2016/17 he chaired Victoria Beckham’s fashion business.  He spent a career in finance rising to be EMEA Chairman of Merrill Lynch and a member of the board of the Bank of England during the 2008 financial crisis. He was Chairman of the Green Investment Bank Commission and wrote the seminal report Winning in the Decade Ahead on the future of London as a Global Financial Centre, for Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Companion of the Chartered Management Institute. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland, a Visiting Fellow of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and an Honorary Fellow of Cambridge University’s Judge Business School. 

Robert  decided to write Born Digital during lockdown when he noticed changes in the way he was interacting with his sons. Limited to learning and socialising entirely virtually was changing how he was connecting with them as a parent, so started to research what was happening and why.

His research found:

  •  90% plus of Generation Z have a phone.
  • The average person checks their phone 47 times a day, 61% of people sleep with their phones
  •  The digital device devotion trend is set to continue: 29% of babies under 1 watch on a digital device for 90 mins a day, 64% of 1-2-year-olds watch more than 2 hours, 42% of under 8’s have their own tablet (Common Sense Media).
  • Yet back in 2019, the Children’s Society said that children are the unhappiest they have been for 25 years partly due to excessive social media use. Even pre-Covid19, the Children’s Society found a continuous decline in average happiness over many years among 10-15-year-olds, that happiness with friends is in decline, and that UK 15 year olds are amongst the saddest and least satisfied with their lives in Europe.

You can pre-order your copy of Born Digital, here. It will be released on 11 March via Whitefox.

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