Clive Priddle, VP and publisher of PublicAffairs talks to authors Anya Kamenetz and Jordan Shapiro on their respective books, The Art of Screen Time and The New Childhood for our weekly series featuring nonfiction authors covering current issues.
Finally: an evidence-based, reassuring guide to what to do about kids and screens, from video games to social media.
Today's babies often make their debut on social media with the very first sonogram. They begin interacting with screens at around four months old. But is this good news or bad news? A wonderful opportunity to connect around the world? Or the first step in creating a generation of addled screen zombies?
Many have been quick to declare this the dawn of a neurological and emotional crisis, but solid science on the subject is surprisingly hard to come by. In The Art of Screen Time, Anya Kamenetz -- an expert on education and technology, as well as a mother of two young children -- takes a refreshingly practical look at the subject. Surveying hundreds of fellow parents on their practices and ideas, and cutting through a thicket of inconclusive studies and overblown claims, she hones a simple message, a riff on Michael Pollan's well-known "food rules": Enjoy Screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.
This brief but powerful dictum forms the backbone of a philosophy that will help parents moderate technology in their children's lives, curb their own anxiety, and create room for a happy, healthy family life with and without screens.
In The New Childhood, Jordan Shapiro provides a hopeful counterpoint to the fearful hand-wringing that has come to define our narrative around children and technology. Drawing on groundbreaking research in economics, psychology, philosophy, and education, The New Childhood shows how technology is guiding humanity toward a bright future in which our children will be able to create new, better models of global citizenship, connection, and community.
Shapiro offers concrete, practical advice on how to parent and educate children effectively in a connected world, and provides tools and techniques for using technology to engage with kids and help them learn and grow. He compares this moment in time to other great technological revolutions in humanity's past and presents entertaining micro-histories of cultural fixtures: the sandbox, finger painting, the family dinner, and more. But most importantly, The New Childhood paints a timely, inspiring and positive picture of today's children, recognizing that they are poised to create a progressive, diverse, meaningful, and hyper-connected world that today's adults can only barely imagine.