An Overview of the Book
Are you feeling a disconnect between what’s promised about children’s use of technology and what you experience yourself? Claims that technology brings families closer together seem out of sync with kids who retreat to their mobile devices for hours at a time. Assurances of amazing technology learning opportunities are contradicted by kids’ obsessive use of entertainment technologies—video games, social networks, and texting—that take the place of their focus on school and constructive use of technology. Children who develop disturbing video game/Internet addiction symptoms, in spite of denials that popular tech products pose any risk.
In Wired Child, child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Richard Freed reveals that destructive technology myths are robbing kids of the childhood they need. These myths have promoted a kids’ tech environment which is defined by indulgence in digital self-amusements rather than learning. Teens now spend an incredible 8 hours each day using screens and phones to access entertainment technologies, while spending a paltry 16 minutes a day using the computer at home for school-related learning. Not surprisingly, you’ll see evidence that our kids’ tech use is pulling them away from the two most crucial experiences of childhood: family and school.
At the core of all the myths highlighted in Wired Child is the digital native-digital immigrant belief. This widely-accepted notion holds that kids are “digital natives,” or experts with tech, simply by virtue of growing up surrounded by gadgets. It also proposes that we—as parents and other adults customarily entrusted with raising kids—are “digital immigrants,” sort of bumbling fools who should take a diminished role in the raising of our children in this digital age.
Yet simply growing up with gadgets does not give children the ability to understand how the use, or more frequently the overuse, of such devices affects their lives. Kids can be astoundingly adept at swiping through phones or tablets, but parents—by virtue of their more developed brains and greater life experiences—are much better able to understand how technology can affect family connection, emotional well-being, academic growth, and life success. Nonetheless, the digital native-digital immigrant myth has convinced many parents to do what former generations would have considered unthinkable: to step away from guiding kids in the waking activity that takes up more of their time than any other.
What you almost certainly know in your heart is what science is now revealing: More than ever, our kids need us to be their guide, to help them on their journey to a happy and successful life. Parents therefore need objective, research-based information to be able to provide their kids a healthy, rewarding childhood in a digital age. In Wired Child, you will find a common-sense guide rooted in the science of behavior and brain function to build the strong families kids need, promote their success in school, limit kids’ risk of developing a video game/Internet addiction, and encourage their productive use of technology.