New York Times best-selling author, Adam Alter keynotes the 2019 University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine Healthy Nevada Speaker Series

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Adam Alter, Ph.D. Alter, a psychologist and researcher, was the featured keynote speaker at the 2019 UNR Med 2019 Healthy Nevada Speaker Series.

New York Times best-selling author Adam Alter, Ph.D. Alter, a psychologist and researcher, was the featured keynote speaker at the 2019 University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine 2019 Healthy Nevada Speaker Series. UNR Med photo by Brin Reynolds. Additional photos available on Flikr

With U.S. adults spending 11 hours and 27 minutes per day connected to media, according to the Q1 2019 Nielsen Total Audience Report, our addiction to technology has become a modern day phenomena that's impacting our personal and professional lives. More than 700 northern Nevadans heard how our dependency on our devices is literally consuming much of our lives from New York Times best-selling author Adam Alter, Ph.D. Alter, a psychologist and researcher, was the featured keynote speaker at tonight's University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine 2019 Healthy Nevada Speaker Series.

"Some researchers have described phones as adult pacifiers, because they act like pacifiers do for babies - they soothe anxiety and other forms of psychological discomfort," said Alter. "We know in addiction research that the more readily available a drug is, the worse the addiction will be. We're carrying our digital drug with us, everywhere we go."  

Alter asked of the audience "When you look back at your lifetime and add up all the mindless hours, do you want to have spent 12 years of your life staring at a smartphone? Especially when, instead of spending that time meaningfully, you wasted it scrolling through social media-and felt worse doing it?"  

Alter provided useful tips to reduce smartphone dependency and maintain or improve well-being. He recommended changing habits to wean ourselves from what's hurting us with strategies such as creating sustainable relationships with tech. His tips for living with sustainable tech include:

  • develop a mindful pushback where screens aren't allowed to dictate your life;
  • set stopping cues to regulate time spent on devices;
  • develop a mindful, more conscious use of tech, asking ourselves how we want to spend our time. Eating, sleeping, exercise, and self-care are all crucial to mental health.  

He suggested reassessing the way we use technology is key to being mindful of phone uses that help accomplish self-care, or detract from well-being.  

Alter is the author of the New York Times best-selling book "Drunk Tank Pink," which investigates how hidden forces in the world around us shape our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. His recent book "Irresistible," (2017) considers why so many people today are addicted to so many behaviors, from incessant smart phone and internet use to video game playing and online shopping.  

Alter's TED talk, "Why our screens make us less happy," has been viewed more than 3.6 million times.  

Alter's academic research focuses on judgment and decision-making and social psychology, with a particular interest in the sometimes surprising effects of subtle cues in the environment on human cognition and behavior. His research has been published widely in academic journals, and featured in dozens of TV, radio and print outlets, including  the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, Huffington Post, and Popular Science, among other publications. Alter has shared his ideas on NPR's Fresh Air, at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, and with large corporations, including Google, Microsoft, Anheuser Busch, Prudential and Fidelity.  

Alter is an associate professor of marketing at New York University's Stern School of Business, with an affiliated appointment in the New York University Psychology Department. In 2015, he was included in the Poets and Quants "40 Most Outstanding Business School Professors under 40 in the World."

Every year, the UNR Med Healthy Nevada Speaker Series provides an interdisciplinary forum featuring national speakers who are paving the way to a healthier world through their work and research. The series began in 2014, and past speakers include Dr. Bill Thomas, Rebecca Skloot, Dr. Bennet Omalu, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee and Dr. Lisa Genova.  

"The Healthy Nevada Speaker Series brings world-class medical and scientific speakers to audiences in northern Nevada," said UNR Med Dean, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D. "It's a powerful way to expose our students and the community to some of the brightest minds in the field with fascinating lectures on medicine and public health."


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Julie Ardito, APR
Senior Director, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 784-6006

Tessa Bowen
Communications Manager, Advancement and Engagement
Office: (775) 682-9254

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Released: Monday November 18, 2019 @ 7:00 PM