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Raising a Screen-Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age

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For parents who didn't grow up with smartphones but can't let go of them now, expert advice on raising kids in our constantly connected world Most kids get their first smartphone at the same time that they're experiencing major developmental changes. Making mistakes has always been a part of growing up, but how do parents help their kids navigate childhood and adolescen For parents who didn't grow up with smartphones but can't let go of them now, expert advice on raising kids in our constantly connected world Most kids get their first smartphone at the same time that they're experiencing major developmental changes. Making mistakes has always been a part of growing up, but how do parents help their kids navigate childhood and adolescence at a time when social media has the potential to magnify the consequences of those mistakes? Rather than spend all their time worrying about the worst-case scenario, readers get a bigger-picture understanding of their kids' digital landscape. Drawing on research and interviews with educators, psychologists, and kids themselves, Raising a Screen-Smart Kid offers practical advice on how parents can help their kids avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits of the digital age by: - using social media to enhance connection with friends and family, instead of following strangers and celebrities, which is a predictor of loneliness and depression - finding online support and community for conditions such as depression and eating disorders, while avoiding potential triggers such as #Thinspiration Pinterest boards - learning and developing life skills through technology--for example, by problem-solving in online games--while avoiding inappropriate content Written by a public health expert and the creator of the popular blog Rants from Mommyland, this book shows parents how to help their kids navigate friendships, bullying, dating, self-esteem, and more online.


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For parents who didn't grow up with smartphones but can't let go of them now, expert advice on raising kids in our constantly connected world Most kids get their first smartphone at the same time that they're experiencing major developmental changes. Making mistakes has always been a part of growing up, but how do parents help their kids navigate childhood and adolescen For parents who didn't grow up with smartphones but can't let go of them now, expert advice on raising kids in our constantly connected world Most kids get their first smartphone at the same time that they're experiencing major developmental changes. Making mistakes has always been a part of growing up, but how do parents help their kids navigate childhood and adolescence at a time when social media has the potential to magnify the consequences of those mistakes? Rather than spend all their time worrying about the worst-case scenario, readers get a bigger-picture understanding of their kids' digital landscape. Drawing on research and interviews with educators, psychologists, and kids themselves, Raising a Screen-Smart Kid offers practical advice on how parents can help their kids avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits of the digital age by: - using social media to enhance connection with friends and family, instead of following strangers and celebrities, which is a predictor of loneliness and depression - finding online support and community for conditions such as depression and eating disorders, while avoiding potential triggers such as #Thinspiration Pinterest boards - learning and developing life skills through technology--for example, by problem-solving in online games--while avoiding inappropriate content Written by a public health expert and the creator of the popular blog Rants from Mommyland, this book shows parents how to help their kids navigate friendships, bullying, dating, self-esteem, and more online.

30 review for Raising a Screen-Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    This was a really well-researched, digestible book with actionable strategies for helping your kid navigate social media. Although I'm a few years away with my kids, I have some anxiety about what will happen when they get their own phones and this book gave me a totally different (and much needed) perspective on how to handle this stage. Instead of feeling nervous I now feel empowered to help my kids be responsible technology users Highly recommend!! Thank you Tarcher Perigee for the free copy This was a really well-researched, digestible book with actionable strategies for helping your kid navigate social media. Although I'm a few years away with my kids, I have some anxiety about what will happen when they get their own phones and this book gave me a totally different (and much needed) perspective on how to handle this stage. Instead of feeling nervous I now feel empowered to help my kids be responsible technology users Highly recommend!! Thank you Tarcher Perigee for the free copy of this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peyton Price

    If you’ve ever wished you had a sensible friend with your best interest at heart AND the expertise to explain how teenage brains experience our digital world, well, now you do. Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advance copy of this book. It’s helped me to face The Fear I feel for my kids every time I encounter a new internet horror story. Each chapter takes on a scenario you’ve heard about on the news (cyberbullying, videogame addiction, online predators, etc.) and explains what’s it If you’ve ever wished you had a sensible friend with your best interest at heart AND the expertise to explain how teenage brains experience our digital world, well, now you do. Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advance copy of this book. It’s helped me to face The Fear I feel for my kids every time I encounter a new internet horror story. Each chapter takes on a scenario you’ve heard about on the news (cyberbullying, videogame addiction, online predators, etc.) and explains what’s it really like for the teen or tween at the center of it, as well as the actual likelihood of your own kid encountering that situation. With that context, the author provides parents with tools—specific questions to consider, conversations to have, and actions to take so that our kids can enjoy the benefits of growing up digital without ending up on the evening news. Required reading. Thank you for this book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Mae

    Great book with solid, practical advice for parents to help their kids navigate and stay safe in today's digital world. Great book with solid, practical advice for parents to help their kids navigate and stay safe in today's digital world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    My son recently discovered Minecraft. We have had a number of unnerving conversations about the various uses for rotten flesh. He has built a hotel and enchanted a number of pigs. He is 6 years old. I was not prepared. Three years ago, I left my corporate job as a technical writer and became an instructor at a community college. In almost every class that I teach, I fight for attention with 25 screens. Phones buzz and beep and steal my instructional thunder. Again, I felt clueless. How do I threa My son recently discovered Minecraft. We have had a number of unnerving conversations about the various uses for rotten flesh. He has built a hotel and enchanted a number of pigs. He is 6 years old. I was not prepared. Three years ago, I left my corporate job as a technical writer and became an instructor at a community college. In almost every class that I teach, I fight for attention with 25 screens. Phones buzz and beep and steal my instructional thunder. Again, I felt clueless. How do I thread the tech needle? How do I give my kids (the one at home and the ones in the classroom) access to what they need while safeguarding them from what they don’t need on the big, scary Internet? Julianna Miner has some answers. Miner, an adjunct professor of global and community health at George Mason University, has written Raising a Screen Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age. As someone who readily dives into philosophical rabbit holes and often finds herself in too deep to dig her way back out, I appreciate Miner’s practical approach to helping families navigate the digital world. She spends at least as much time offering guidance as she does philosophizing about issues. Her insight into how young people use technology is thoughtful and evidence- based. But parents, caretakers, and mentors need help putting that insight and evidence into practice. Here, Miner saves the day. She explains the psychology behind certain online behaviors, and she ends each chapter ends with a list of takeaways, including questions for readers to ask of themselves or their family (“Why do you think your child should have a phone or computer?”) and simple steps to improve their family’s overall tech health (“Give lots of warnings that a transition is coming, for example, ‘We’re turning this off in five minutes.’”). Miner addresses many of our biggest digital anxieties: online relationships, gaming, ADHD, bullying, self-esteem, and more. But her tone is optimistic. She emphasizes that mentoring, much more than monitoring, will help young people to navigate the tricky world of life online. Grownups, Miner points out, must own up to their own online habits and model healthy behavior for the kids in their lives. This book is a surprisingly easy and engaging read, which is not often the case with research-based parenting tomes. But when Miner is not teaching, she is writing for her successful and hilarious blog, Rants from Mommyland. Her openness, coupled with her strong humorist writing chops, adds a warm, engaging touch to a book that tackles such a thorny subject. She shares personal stories of her own adolescent misadventures and of arguments with her own teens. I especially appreciated a story she shared about her son, a seventh grader who longs to have an Instagram account: “I mean, I know my kid, and I know what’s best for him is to wait another year. But with that choice comes very real social consequences. And he has to pay them, not me. This is a trade-off I’m making for him, and frankly it feels like a no-win situation. If I let him get on social media early, I run the risk of his encountering a situation that he may not be able to handle. If I don’t allow him on social media early, he runs the risk of being excluded from a big group of kids. As if middle school weren’t hard enough.” She gets it. She’s one of us. But Miner comes prepared -- with a boatload of data and the know-how to harness that data. As parents, caretakers, and mentors, we can’t sanitize the World Wide Web, but with Miner’s advice, we can help our kids navigate those murky waters safely.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Excellent, practical guide with the research to back the recommendations. I love the focus on Mentoring and Monitoring. If you just monitor your chidren’s tech use, you aren’t preparing them to make wise decisions. If you only mentor, you might not catch in age-appropriate ways when they’re about to really mis-step. The book is about finding the right balance for your family and for each child. The examples and stories flesh out the rationale and helpful tools for discussions and family rules ar Excellent, practical guide with the research to back the recommendations. I love the focus on Mentoring and Monitoring. If you just monitor your chidren’s tech use, you aren’t preparing them to make wise decisions. If you only mentor, you might not catch in age-appropriate ways when they’re about to really mis-step. The book is about finding the right balance for your family and for each child. The examples and stories flesh out the rationale and helpful tools for discussions and family rules are included.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    This is perfect timing for our family. Easy to read and relate to and some interesting ideas about social media use in teens/kids and how it correlates with brain development and typical social development. It also includes a sample contract for kids/parents to use for cell phones and social media.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Keskes

    This book is a MUST-READ for parents today. Not only is it practical and full of interesting social history, but it's also hilarious! I am definitely a member of the "last analog dinosaurs!" While my little ones do not have phones yet, I feel more prepared now for when they do. Thank you Tarcher Perigee for providing me with an advanced copy. It is already well-worn with highlights and post-its! This book is a MUST-READ for parents today. Not only is it practical and full of interesting social history, but it's also hilarious! I am definitely a member of the "last analog dinosaurs!" While my little ones do not have phones yet, I feel more prepared now for when they do. Thank you Tarcher Perigee for providing me with an advanced copy. It is already well-worn with highlights and post-its!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elly Lonon

    Holy shit this book. I'm so lucky to have scored an advance copy. First? I don't feel judged. Zero judgment. How many parenting books can you say THAT about? Second? So engaging! Julie mixes in witty anecdotes with all the factual, statistical action so your eyes don't roll back in your head by the seventh bar graph. Third? REAL, ACTIONABLE ADVICE. In summary? SO GOOD. Go get it. Holy shit this book. I'm so lucky to have scored an advance copy. First? I don't feel judged. Zero judgment. How many parenting books can you say THAT about? Second? So engaging! Julie mixes in witty anecdotes with all the factual, statistical action so your eyes don't roll back in your head by the seventh bar graph. Third? REAL, ACTIONABLE ADVICE. In summary? SO GOOD. Go get it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    (I always have misgivings about rating a book when the author and I have overlapping social circles, but there you go. I do not know her but she's a local and FaceBook keeps suggesting her to me as a friend even before I checked out this book. We have 3 or 4 mutual FB acquaintances.) The first 3 chapters of this book were hideously dull, but it got better. Honestly, I resorted to reading the personal stories at the beginning of each chapter, the gray text boxes, the "takeaways" at the end of the (I always have misgivings about rating a book when the author and I have overlapping social circles, but there you go. I do not know her but she's a local and FaceBook keeps suggesting her to me as a friend even before I checked out this book. We have 3 or 4 mutual FB acquaintances.) The first 3 chapters of this book were hideously dull, but it got better. Honestly, I resorted to reading the personal stories at the beginning of each chapter, the gray text boxes, the "takeaways" at the end of the chapters" and skimming the rest. I will say that the takeaway portions did not read like a chapter summary, but seemed to contain new information not included in the chapters. My kids are 9 and 11, and we recently experienced our first case of cyber-bullying and impersonation online. I handled the issue in a manner that was pretty close to what this author recommended, though I didn't drag together the parents of both of the other children and demand an explanation. I can see where it would have either quickly and fully resolved the issue or blown up entirely in my face. Either way, no major lasting trauma but we're a lot more aware of what can actually happen thanks to friends and not just strangers and hopefully will be wiser going forward. Aside from this, I feel like my kids are a *little* too young to be worrying about this stuff just yet. Maybe in a year or two. A big takeaway is to keep the lines of communication super open and to resist "take away the phone/computer/iPad" for any issue or infraction.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shelley Smith

    This book is about how the digital age is affecting our kids and how to manage it as a parent. I can’t even put well to words the sensation as I have been reading it. It reminds me of the “Home Advisor” commercials where someone asks their neighbor for a home repair recommendation and then expects that person to do all the research and get back to them. That is this book! It’s like I asked my smartest and most trusted and respected friend my questions about the internet and my teens. She then w This book is about how the digital age is affecting our kids and how to manage it as a parent. I can’t even put well to words the sensation as I have been reading it. It reminds me of the “Home Advisor” commercials where someone asks their neighbor for a home repair recommendation and then expects that person to do all the research and get back to them. That is this book! It’s like I asked my smartest and most trusted and respected friend my questions about the internet and my teens. She then went out, did extensive research, wrote it all down and published it! She even got me an advanced copy so I could read it during my vacation (the only time I seem to have time to read anyway). Seriously! It is informing but relatable with the research I wish I had time to do myself! It’s not preachy and not doom and gloom. It’s thought provoking but more importantly conversation provoking! I highly recommend it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Olga Mecking

    While other books about technology and kids focus on all the bad things that could happen if you even have your child look at a screen, "Raising a Screen-Smart Kid" takes a much more balanced approach. Author Julianna Miner acknowledges that children use their phones/screens for a reason and rather than forbid these technologies, parents should rather inform themselves about these new apps and social media accounts, have a connection to their children and talk, talk, and talk some more. Most impo While other books about technology and kids focus on all the bad things that could happen if you even have your child look at a screen, "Raising a Screen-Smart Kid" takes a much more balanced approach. Author Julianna Miner acknowledges that children use their phones/screens for a reason and rather than forbid these technologies, parents should rather inform themselves about these new apps and social media accounts, have a connection to their children and talk, talk, and talk some more. Most importantly, "Raising a Screen-Smar Kid" includes the voices of teenagers themselves and I found the most interesting: teens, as it turns out, know what they're doing. Despite their changing brains and bodies, they are not mindless automatons to be controlled at every waking hour. They are aware, smart human beings who might just need a little help sometimes. And that gave me the most hope.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heather Siegel

    As many of these narratives in this book illustrate, for tweens and teens, there is no distinction between online life and in-person life. There are ways, however, for adults to “mentor” rather than “monitor” to help keep their kids safe, happy, and responsible. Using a perfect blend of narratives, hard research, and welcome takeaways, this book offers practical advice on how to help tweens and teens make socially responsible decisions, and to use technology for happiness, connection, and a sens As many of these narratives in this book illustrate, for tweens and teens, there is no distinction between online life and in-person life. There are ways, however, for adults to “mentor” rather than “monitor” to help keep their kids safe, happy, and responsible. Using a perfect blend of narratives, hard research, and welcome takeaways, this book offers practical advice on how to help tweens and teens make socially responsible decisions, and to use technology for happiness, connection, and a sense of community. Since, as the author points out, we are “raising the first generation of true-digital natives” and at the same time setting the bar for those who will look to us for precedents, turning a blind eye and hoping it all works out is simply not a strategy. If you are a parent of a tween or teen, a school official, or work with this age group, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this guide.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I've been a Rants from Mommyland blog reader for a long time, and absolutely love Julie's writing. However, when she first wrote this book, I didn't think we needed it. I had a lot of ideas about how we would handle tech with our kids and didn't think we needed any additional input. A lot of Rants followers have read the book and praised it heavily, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is so well researched and presented, while withholding judgment for any decisions we have already made. Even if yo I've been a Rants from Mommyland blog reader for a long time, and absolutely love Julie's writing. However, when she first wrote this book, I didn't think we needed it. I had a lot of ideas about how we would handle tech with our kids and didn't think we needed any additional input. A lot of Rants followers have read the book and praised it heavily, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is so well researched and presented, while withholding judgment for any decisions we have already made. Even if you think you have the rules for your kids figured out, this book is worth a read; I guarantee you will learn something new. I'm really happy Julie wrote it, and glad I finally got around to reading it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maria (Ri)

    I read this alongside Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle and find the two to be a wonderful pair. Negotiating smart phones, online gaming, and social media for my 10 and 12 year olds has been a challenge that I previously tried to just about by not yet allowing phones or most online activity. I can see this is no longer a helpful or sustainable approach, so I'm glad this book provided some guidance on what is most appropriate for my kids. I particularly appreciated the view that online gaming s I read this alongside Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle and find the two to be a wonderful pair. Negotiating smart phones, online gaming, and social media for my 10 and 12 year olds has been a challenge that I previously tried to just about by not yet allowing phones or most online activity. I can see this is no longer a helpful or sustainable approach, so I'm glad this book provided some guidance on what is most appropriate for my kids. I particularly appreciated the view that online gaming serves the similar need for connection for tween boys that social media provides for girls. Parenting in this age of smart phones is new territory for all of us, and I'm glad for this resource as a source of guidance without hard and fast rules or one size fits all approach.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    A lot of good material and vignettes in each chapter to familiarize one with the topics and concerns at hand. I like that the approach varies with the type of devices and apps concerned, and with the age and specifics of the particular child, not a one-size-fits-all approach. I also liked the point that surreptitious spying on your children is what most parents do, and is not helpful, and that being open with your kids about the need for you to monitor their use for a time and to be active on th A lot of good material and vignettes in each chapter to familiarize one with the topics and concerns at hand. I like that the approach varies with the type of devices and apps concerned, and with the age and specifics of the particular child, not a one-size-fits-all approach. I also liked the point that surreptitious spying on your children is what most parents do, and is not helpful, and that being open with your kids about the need for you to monitor their use for a time and to be active on the media that your child is active with, even gaming together, etc., made a lot of sense to me. Well done!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    While I'm not one that typically likes these types of books, I got some good information and ideas to use from this book. I loved that she took a non-judgemental/judgy approach- showing both the positives of technology as well as the negatives. I also like that she tried not to make sweeping statements that are supposed to apply to everyone. Overall, I'm glad I read the book, it made me look at the way I'm currently handling screen time (probably a little too helicopter mom) and realize I need t While I'm not one that typically likes these types of books, I got some good information and ideas to use from this book. I loved that she took a non-judgemental/judgy approach- showing both the positives of technology as well as the negatives. I also like that she tried not to make sweeping statements that are supposed to apply to everyone. Overall, I'm glad I read the book, it made me look at the way I'm currently handling screen time (probably a little too helicopter mom) and realize I need to take a more mentor approach as the kids get older. I'll hold onto this book for future reference.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Critchfield

    Really important stuff here for parents, although it's more applicable when your kids are older. I'll be revisiting this in a few years. I like how the author doesn't say this is how to do things (which is why I sometimes avoid parenting books), but rather gives research-based and anecdotal evidence to present information, and then encourages readers to act based on their family situations and values. She also highlights the good and the bad of technology and teens, including social media and vi Really important stuff here for parents, although it's more applicable when your kids are older. I'll be revisiting this in a few years. I like how the author doesn't say this is how to do things (which is why I sometimes avoid parenting books), but rather gives research-based and anecdotal evidence to present information, and then encourages readers to act based on their family situations and values. She also highlights the good and the bad of technology and teens, including social media and video games. It changed my perspective a bit as well as made me terrified to one day be a father to teenagers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    5 stars I'll admit I've avoided the topic because it makes me so damn anxious. But, I love Ms. Miner's writing ability to add humor and real life stories on top of research to this subject. Everything was well written and I'm thankful for the resources this book pulled together for me. It made the whole thing seem less daunting and gave us the tools to make a plan for our family in regards to technology. 5 stars I'll admit I've avoided the topic because it makes me so damn anxious. But, I love Ms. Miner's writing ability to add humor and real life stories on top of research to this subject. Everything was well written and I'm thankful for the resources this book pulled together for me. It made the whole thing seem less daunting and gave us the tools to make a plan for our family in regards to technology.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeneece Western

    This was a well researched and approachable read on what is an ever changing and tense topic. The landscape for kids is that of a digital world and those of us not raised in one are trying to find the best footing to help our kids in it. This provided real insight, ideas and stats about what we really need to be doing to make sure that this component in our childrens lives is as safe as we can make it. In short, be real that this is just part of the world now and finding a map is useful.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arista

    Ok. I bought this expecting to read lots of scientific evidence that technology (particularly social media) is terrible for kids. It isn’t that the book argued that such things are GOOD for kids, but it right-sized parental anxiety about it and offered practical and reasonable tips on how to manage technology’s role in kids’ lives.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Holley

    3.5 stars Helpful guide in introducing and navigating the online world with your kids. Some advice on how to start and a lot of thoughts on when they are teenagers and already online. I loved that this book pointed out the positives of technology and not just the harms. Parenting today means screens are involved so I found this to be a practical, helpful book in regards to modern parenting.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Beckmann

    Realistic and sensible guide to dealing with and how to embrace the technology in our kid’s lives. She gives us practical advise on how to introduce tech, monitor it, and helps parents to understand the value and risk in it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Trish Boese

    3* This book has a message of hope - technology isn't all bad. It makes our lives both better and worse. The material on self-esteem, online friendships, and digital addiction is helpful for adults too, though it is not even based on moral values. 3* This book has a message of hope - technology isn't all bad. It makes our lives both better and worse. The material on self-esteem, online friendships, and digital addiction is helpful for adults too, though it is not even based on moral values.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    I can't say I loved this book. Most of it was common sense and let's face it, there are a lot of parents who don't have it. Keeping your teen's phone away at night in your bedroom to charge was the most helpful tip, even though I have been doing this for years. I can't say I loved this book. Most of it was common sense and let's face it, there are a lot of parents who don't have it. Keeping your teen's phone away at night in your bedroom to charge was the most helpful tip, even though I have been doing this for years.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    This book was amazingly helpful as a parent and an educator. I learned so much about adolescent development, and it gave me tools to navigate this relatively new world of technology that we live in. Instead of scaring the reader, Miner gives practical strategies to tackle tricky situations. It made me feel like I was not alone and left me feeling empowered. It will be a reread as my children get older for sure, and I will recommend it to my friends and colleagues!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Very practical advice and excellent ideas for parents navigating technology. Great book! Thank you!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Kozlowski Ziobro

    This strikes me as incredibly well-researched and thoughtful. It’s also really accessibly written; an easy read. I thoroughly recommend it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A great guide! Lots of helpful information and suggestions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Skimmed the "Takeaways" at the end of each chapter since it is primarily targeted to teens, but worth revisiting later down the line. Skimmed the "Takeaways" at the end of each chapter since it is primarily targeted to teens, but worth revisiting later down the line.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This should be required reading for any parents of kids, ages 8-18.

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