A few weeks back I was asked if I would like to review a copy Screen-Smart Parenting by Jodi Gold. Subtitled 'How to find balance and benefit in your child's use of social media, apps and digital devices' the book aims to help modern parents with issues that our own parents never had to face, as we raise a generation of children that are surrounded by screens.
I think that most parents these days worry about how much time their children spend looking at a screen. There are many damaging reports and statistics about children and their use of electronic devices, but on the other hand, Harry really progressed his reading using first a phonics app and then e-books, and Mia finally learned her colours from YouTube videos.
The title of the book is Screen Smart Parenting, not screen free parenting, and that's important. The author is realistic. She recognises that children of all ages and teenagers are going to use electronic devices, and it's not necessarily about limiting them but about educating them to use these devices wisely. Having said that, she does advocate no screens at all before the age of 2.
The book is divided into sections according to the age of the child, so you can concentrate on the sections that are most relevant to your family. Of course it doesn't hurt to look ahead, although the teenager section in particular was rather scary, I can't believe how long teenagers spend texting each other!
Harry and Mia fall into a generation that Gold terms Digitods - children that have no memories of a time before the iPhone. It's difficult to imagine sometimes how different my childhood was. To be honest I'm not sure how my parents coped without constant access to children's television programmes for a moment's peace and quiet!
There is also a lot of emphasis on the ways that young children can use screens to benefit them. Gold picks out particular apps and television shows that she recommends, and suggests ways that that parents and children can enjoy them together.
Probably the most important thing that I picked out from the book is a reminder that children copy your example. If you are using a screen all day then you can't expect them not to be, and you should implement digital boundaries for the entire family. According to the book, our digital parenting style is fairly media-moderate, and although we do use screens, in particular our phones, a great deal, I don't usually have the television on during the day and the children are pretty closely supervised with their screen time.
I'd recommend this book to all parents of children, ranging in age from newborn to teenager. It's a really interesting read and full of advice on ways to successfully manage your digital environment without being made to feel guilty for it.
I received a copy of this book to review, and Amazon link is affiliate. Screen Smart Parenting by Jodi Gold is published by Guilford Press (distributed in UK
and Europe by Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group).