Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Challenges: NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* | Kobo | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
Are your kids unable to step away from the screens? Here is a practical, step-by-step guide that gives parents the tools to teach children, from toddlers to teens, how to gain control of their technology use.
As children spend more of their time on tablets and smartphones, using apps specially engineered to capture their attention, parents are concerned about the effects of so much technology use--and feel powerless to intervene. They want their kids to be competent and competitive in their use of technology, but they also want to prevent the attention problems that can develop from overuse. Lucy Jo Palladino shows that the key is to help kids build awareness and control over their own attention, and in this guide she gives parents the tools to do exactly that, in seven straightforward, evidence-based steps.
Parents will learn the best practices to guide children to understand and control their attention—and to recognize and resist when their attention is being "snatched." This approach can be modified for kids of all ages. Parents will also learn the critical difference between voluntary and involuntary attention, new findings about brain development, and what puts children at risk for attention disorders.
Buy this book!
Okay, if you don't have kids, work with them, or care for them, you can probably skip this one. But, if you have children living with you or you work with children, then you need to read this book. Technology, gaming, and social media are here and we can't realistically avoid them. But it's hard to know the benefits and pitfalls and if it's hard for adults, imagine the difficulty for children, and that includes teens, whose brains are quite literally still developing.
This book is not my usual fare for the blog but I saw it at NetGalley and had to have it. I hoped that, despite its emphasis on the family, I would find it useful as a teacher. Happily, I did.
What I loved:
1) The advice and information is firmly grounded in science and research. Numerous studies are cited as are YouTube videos (apropos, no?) but we also get anecdotes from the author's work with children of all ages as well as visits to classrooms.
2) Palladino, the author, has a calm, sane, reasonable approach. There's no 'the sky is falling' nonsense. She accepts that computers, gaming, social media, etc. are here and it's the job of adults to help children learn how to manage their time and to make responsible decisions concerning technology.
3) I learned, a lot. Any book that teaches me something is a good one and this had a lot. The information about voluntary and involuntary attention alone was a mix of new and familiar. Add in the information about how computers affect the brain and its development and I have a lot to think about.
4) The advice and suggestions, while definitely aimed at families as the title says, are easily adaptable to classrooms, camps, and other environments where children of all ages spend time.
5) She respects the children. That alone is huge. Too many of the books I read, aimed at parents, show a distinct lack of respect for children. They try to 'fix' the child or address the child's issues only from the parental perspective. Palladino neatly navigates the tricky balance between the child's needs and the family's needs. While most of the advice given is to help the child, some of the advice she presents is aimed at the parents, to help them cope.
6) This is related to number one. Palladino clearly understands child development and it underpins her advice. Suggestions given are not one size fits all but each one is broken down by age, how to make it applicable and relevant to the different ages and stages.
7) A nice bonus for me is that I can count reading this book towards my required annual training for my teaching certificate. :)
A few minor complaints:
1) A few statements and examples lacked context. For instance, she talks about a father trying to engage his son in interests other than gaming but disregards, initially, the son's interest in drumming. He, the father, stated that he'd noticed his son tapping along to music but thought it was a nervous habit. That confused the heck out of me because tapping along to music is both normal and common. Palladino provided no context as to why the father though this was abnormal behavior. I read it and thought the problem lay with the father and not the son; context was seriously needed.
2) Occasionally the text was dry but that had more to do with the science than Palladino's style. Overall, her style was easy, clear, and witty.
Buy it, read it, use it. I'm encouraging my school to buy this book and use it. I think it would not only be educational for the other staff but a good foundation for developing an official technology policy. If you're a parent, teacher, guidance counselor, etc. I can not recommend this book enough.