I was thrilled to be asked to read and review Growing up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World. (I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered below are my own.)
Does technology bring families closer together or drive them farther apart?
About the Book:
In Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (Northfield Publishers/Moody), authors Dr. Gary Chapman (The Five Love Languages) and Arlene Pellicane remind parents that they, not technology, are still responsible for educating their children about having healthy and fulfilling relationships.
Although parents are not able to monitor every minute of their child’s screen time, they can guide them to make positive choices by example. Growing Up Social offers practical guidance on:
Parenting Your Child Through Screen Life: Using technology to educate children on social skills, communication, gratitude, responsibility, and privacy; teaching them that people come first, and technology comes second. Understanding the A+ skills of affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention.
Screen Time and the Brain: Understanding how screen time is strengthening some parts of the brain (quick decision making, visual acuity, and multitasking), but weakening other parts (one-on-one people skills, empathy, reading, writing, and sustained concentration).
Screen Time and Love Languages: Expressing love more effectively to your child, who is often engaged in screen time, by understanding their “love language.” (physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service)
Screen Time and Parental Authority: Implementing boundaries regarding screen time (i.e. during dinner time, bedtime, school hours). Advice if you find your child is involved with cyber-bullying, sexting, or viewing pornography. Abiding by a “screen safe family pledge
Screen Time and Unhealthy Lifestyle Patterns: Preventing unhealthy habits caused by excess screen time, including a sedentary lifestyle, isolation from others, unhealthy eating habits, lack of sleep, and aggressive behavior. Also impacted is a child’s inability to have healthy, positive friendships face-to-face.
Product Details: Paperback, 240 pages Publisher: Northfield Publishers, a division of Moody Publishers (September 1, 2014) Price: $15.99 ISBN-10: 0802411231 ISBN-13: 978-0802411235
About the Authors:
Gary Chapman, PhD, is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The 5 Love Languages. With over 30 years of counseling experience, he has the uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to human behavior, showing readers not just where they are wrong, but how to grow and move forward. Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. www.5LoveLanguages.com
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to a Happy Husband and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a featured guest on Fox & Friends, The Today Show, The Better Show, TLC’s Home Made Simple, The 700 Club, Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah and Family Life Today radio. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Arlene worked as the Associate Producer for Turning Point Television. Arlene earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three young children.
Spark and Pook Review:
When I saw the title of this book, I knew it would be applicable to me as I navigate these murky waters of parenthood. We use a lot of technology in our home, and although we try to use it in mostly productive ways (such as with these educational Pre-K apps ), I do occasionally wonder if we incorporate it into our lives a little too much. To be honest, I was a little worried that this book would be one long lecture about allowing my child, Pooky, (almost three) to use electronic devices. Luckily I was wrong.
Although the tone can come across a bit preachy at times, this book is not a judgemental finger-wagging at your parenting. Instead, it is a well laid out book that uses scientific research to present the facts of how technology is impacting our children and their/our relationships.
The authors maintain that these prevalent electronic devices (computers, smart phones, video games, tablets, etc…) are not inherently bad, but are useful tools that can make our lives more efficient and productive. However, we are cautioned by the current research coming out of reputable places such as Mayo Clinic that overuse and abuse of these devices can lead to social and health problems especially in the younger generation of today.
How did this book affect me?
As I read, I was constantly analyzing my own, as well as my daughter’s, use of our devices. Because of this book, I’ve made a few changes. I’ve tried to be more consistent about saving most of my screen time for when Pooky is sleeping. (I don’t want her feeling like she has to compete with a device for my attention.) I’ve stopped letting her use the tablet (or other device) as wind-down time before bed. I’ve procured a copy of The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts and The 5 Love Languages of Children. (Affiliate link disclosure)
The authors offer helpful advice in each chapter to help parents who feel like they may need to change the way screen time is happening in their home.
Did you know?
I found myself highlighting so much of this book as I was reading it. I’d like to share some passages with you. And I want your feedback!
- The AAP recommends that children older than two years old should get no more than two hours a day of screen time. This means if your child is on the computer for one hour at school, they should only have one additional hour at home.
- Researchers found that children who exceeded two hours per day of screen time were one-and-a-half to two times more likely to be above average in attention problems.
- Watching television or playing videogames at night also hinders sleep. A child can easily step into a vicious cycle of watching television or playing video games, not exercising, eating junk food, sleeping poorly, and gaining weight. These are destructive patterns for any child, and for a shy child it can be particularly debilitating as it leads to further isolation.
- In the screen world, children are trained daily to get what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. That may hold their attention fast, but it doesn’t sound much like the real world we are preparing our children to live in.
- Researchers have proposed a new phenomenon called “Facebook Depression…”
- Today’s screen-driven child doesn’t have the attention span to read books, yet research has repeatedly shown that access to books and reading time is a leading predictor of school success.
- Social contact is a core human need. Interacting with screens more than people can foster an unhealthy pattern of isolation.
I would really like to hear your reaction (in the comments) to one (or more) of the above statements. Let’s discuss!
Would I recommend this book to others? The answer is a resounding yes! If you use electronic devices in any way and have kids of any age, then this book is applicable to you. There is so much to be aware of about the effects of screen time on kids. Don’t be a statistic. Arm yourself (and your family) with knowledge and guidelines.