I recently listened to the audiobook version of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. Gary Chapman is the author of The 5 Love Languages. I thought Growing Up Social did a fairly good job at trying to be reasonable rather than just saying “technology = bad”. It did not take the approach of trying to get rid of all technology but it did seem to be preaching to the worst examples: the TVs/tablets/smartphones that are used as babysitters or the kids that see mood and behavior changes after playing video games too much.
Growing Up Social tries to share that the over-dependence on technology can be problematic for kids that do not mature socially. They are not able to interact with others, get less exercise, and cannot concentrate. These symptoms make for children with deficits in certain areas of their lives. As their parents, we want to raise them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals. Using too much screen time may seem like the new norm but at what cost.
This book, which is written from a Christian background, addresses those problems and encourages parents to be the decision makers rather than give into the tantrums of their children. The ability to enforce limits is the core message of the book, which is just as much about parenting as it is technology. The second message of the book is to make the most of the time that is not consumed by screen time by investing in family time and building other relationships. Another angle from the book is to mature the children so that they learn affection, appreciation, anger management, apologizing, and attention.
I would not say that the book teaches anything revolutionary. Most of us know these things and might only go against the recommendations for convenience, such as needing to occupy the children while preparing dinner or letting the good habits slide when they visit a friend’s house. The other takeaway is to be aware of how you are modeling behavior to your children. It is hypocritical to be on your phone or social media all of the time and instruct your children to do the opposite.
As an audiobook, Growing Up Social was a quick listen and the content was reassuring though it did fall into some of the old traps of “violent videogames are bad” and limiting technology usage is the only way to raise relational kids. It was fairly common knowledge but others might have some “ah-ha” moments in the context of their own children. If you have kids and would like to read about limiting technology in an affirming way that demonstrates applying the 5 love languages to your children, check out Growing Up Social.