I have been a fan of Dr. Gary Chapman’s writing since 2002. I read his book, The Five Love Languages, after it was given to me as a bridal shower gift. A few years later when I became a mother, I mined awesome parental gems alongside a few moms at my church when we came together to read Dr. Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages of Children. When the publisher asked me to read and review Growing Up Social, a new book by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane, I was more than happy to do so.
Growing Up Social scrutinizes the vast amount of time children spend in front of screens (tablets, phone, computers, and televisions), explores the issues that arise from too much screen time, and offers solutions to help parents establish screen time boundaries. I was eager to read the book because I have children who are members of the young digital crowd and because blogging and social media management often keep me in front of a computer screen.
I freely admit that we have plenty of entertaining electronic devices here. We only have one television, but we also have an iPad, two cell phones, a laptop, a Playstation, desktop computer, and a portable DVD player. Even with so many devices, I thought we did a good job of monitoring the type of and amount of screen time our girls can enjoy. Growing Up Social definitely gave me something to think about!
The book is divided into two sections. The first half discusses what the authors refer to as the A+ Method for creating relational kids. The premise is that children are so engrossed in electronic devices, they aren’t able to learn the relational skills necessary for future success. The book then goes on to address the necessity of five A’s: Affection, Appreciation, Anger Management, Apology, and Attention. The second half of the book addresses the impact screen time has on family life, specifically in areas such as brain function, shyness, security, and parental authority.
All of Growing Up Social was helpful and provided the “meat and potatoes” I was eager to digest. The anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book were relevant and practical. In fact, on more than one occasion, the anecdotes hit so close to home it seemed the authors could have been spying on our family!
Throughout the book, I was constantly reminded about the dangers of allowing wee ones, like my three year old Baby Girl, to spend time using electronic devices. The authors believe that doing so offers too much too soon and find this can be detrimental to a young one’s biological and emotional development. As I read, I was also reminded that though children may already be overloaded on screen time, it is not too late to start implementing changes. I appreciated the ample suggestions on how to do so.
There is much to love about Growing Up Social, but there were three parts I especially enjoyed. The suggested television/movie viewing guidelines were excellent and I plan to talk to my husband about implementing those guidelines in our home. Next, the chapter titled Screen Time and You caused me to think more closely about how I can reduce the amount and frequency of my personal screen time. Finally, the short Too Much Screen Time Assessment led me to ponder how screen time was affecting my children.
Let’s be honest. We live in a digital age and screens are an essential part of life. However, as a parent, I can establish screen time guidelines that will help my children use electronics in a healthy manner. Screens are here to stay. The key question is whether the screens will control my children or whether I will teach my children to control the screens. Though it may take work, the latter can be done and Growing Up Social provides practical tips to help parents do so.
© 2015, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.