Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World {Book Review}

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Growing Up Social- Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven world {Book Review}

Recently I had the opportunity to review Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. Usually, I turn down a book review, but when I saw the title, I was intrigued. Ever since Abigail was born, I’ve been more lax about screen time and have started having some concerns about the influence technology is having on our young girls. Although I’ve since gotten stricter about screen time, it seems like my kids are constantly requesting “to watch something” or “play on the iPad.” I need some solutions.

Enter this book:

Brief Summary:

Growing Up Social is a book about the influence and impact screens have on our children, specifically relating to how our kids are learning (or not learning) how to develop healthy social relationships. The term screen refers to any technological device with a screen like a tablet, computer, laptop, TV, or cellphone. With the growing number of screens in our homes, there’s good reason to be concerned. This book discusses the issues and poses potential solutions for parents who want to teach their children how to use technology responsibly.

Growing Up Social is divided into two sections. The first section describes five A+ skills children need for success in life. These skills include showing affection, appreciating others, managing anger, learning to apologize, and paying attention. Each skill must be taught by parents; these are not innate qualities. Each chapter offers helpful tips and advice for instilling the particular quality into your child.

The second section addresses those nagging questions many parents have about screen time and their impact on the family. Chapters in this section include the following:

  • Screen Time & Shyness
  • Screen Time & the Brain
  • Screen Time & the Love Languages
  • Screen Time & Security
  • Screen Time & Parental Authority
  • Screen Time & the Single Parent
  • Screen Time & You

Chapman and Pellicane use compelling scientific data and clinical studies to show the dangers of excessive technology use and the implications it can have on developing healthy relationships.

My Take-Aways:

This book is filled with gems. Here are a few things I really loved:

Screens can offer an excuse for the shy child–

In the chapter on shyness, Chapman and Pellicane state:

“When a child hears over and over that he’s shy, and it gives him an excuse for not developing social skills. A child can say, ‘Oh, I’m just shy,’ giving him a pass to skip politeness and conversation” (113).

Shyness is never an excuse for rudeness. We must teach our children early on to look adults in the eye and speak when spoken to. That requires intentional practice, and Chapman and Pellicane offer several great ideas to help parents teach their children how to interact appropriately with others.

Screen usage is addicting–

If we let our kids hide behind screens, then we not only hinder them socially, but also intellectually. Screen addiction is a real concern:

“Many psychologists are concerned that extensive computer game playing in children may lead to long-term changes in the brain’s circuitry that resemble the effects of substance dependence. Kids addicted to gaming can’t resist the urge to play, even if it interrupts basic hygiene, eating, sleeping, homework, and relating to family and friends” (130).

Screens cannot replace a child’s need for love from his parent–

When children don’t feel loved by their parents because they aren’t getting enough love in their specific love language, they withdraw, often into a screen:

“The technology itself isn’t to blame; the screen is simply the modern withdrawing place for a child when he doesn’t feel loved by his parents” (148).

Am I neglecting my child emotionally? Our children need to know their parents love them. A tablet or TV cannot replace our love.

A “digital Sabbath” might be the answer–

The idea of creating a “digital Sabbath,” a predetermined time period when we “rest” from our screens is a lofty one. To take a break from devices opens up more opportunities for family bonding. When I’m glued to my phone, I’m telling my kids what I value and teaching them bad habits:

“Kids don’t need constant attention from their parents, but they do need the assurance that they rank above the noise of the screen world” (194).

Creating a “digital Sabbath” where everyone “rests” from their screens is one I’d like to run with. What if we took Sundays off and truly rested? Could we find healthier ways to connect without TV and technology?

What about my screen time?–

My screen time can get out of control. It’s easy to escape from the crying babies and fighting children by checking Facebook, but when I do, my girls let me know by their attitudes. They show their anger with me for not giving them the attention they need and deserve and rightly so. Establishing rules about screen time is a step I need to take.

In conclusion:

I highly recommend Growing Up Social to all parents living in the 21st century. Technology has its benefits, and our children need to know how to use and access it…but responsibly. Screens should not be something our kids hide behind to avoid confrontation or developing relationships. As parents, we have the responsibility of teaching our children the proper way to handle technology as well as how to form friendships IRL. Chapman and Pellicane’s book provides all the information you need to get started.

How do you handle screen time in your home? Do you have set rules? Would a book like Growing Up Social benefit you?

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  1. […] I reviewed this book recently and HIGHLY recommend it to you if you have children. TVs, phones, the internet, iPads, and video games are changing the dynamics of how children are communicating (or not). Read my review here. […]