Author: Naomi Schaefer Riley

Publisher: Templeton Press
ISBN: 978-1-59947-482

Are your children addicted to their phones, tablets, computers, or television? In today’s world that appears to be a common dilemma. As parents, is there anything you can do to change those dynamics? Let me show you what author, Naomi Schaefer Riley, has to say about that in her books titled Be The Parent, Please.

Schaefer Riley opens chapter one with a conversation she was having with a friend over screen time and their children. She makes reference to a study conducted in 2015 by Common Sense Media where it was found that tweens, according to their study those are children aged 8 to 12, were spending as much as twelve hours each day on their computers, phones, or tablets and those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen spent eight hours and twenty minutes per day doing the same on average. (2017, paraphrase, p.7) Naomi states that many parents find these statistics uncomfortable and perhaps misconstrued. However, another study conducted in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation stated findings that were extremely close to these. So what does this mean?

The single upside to this excessive time spent on digital media is that infants and toddlers who swiped screens had better motor coordination that those that did not. (2017, p.17) In over 217 studies on this topic conducted by Northwestern University and Temple University “people of all ages can improve all types of spatial skills through training, period,”. However, notes Schafer Riley those skills did not translate into anything meaningful in the real world. And according to Tim Smith, in the Tablet Project, “Students who got the console decreased academic performance and had more behavioral problems”.

Schasfer Riley cites a 2015 article that states “…even educational electronic toys may hinder children’s interactions with real people.” (2017, p.37) This was a comparative study that found that traditional toys paved the way for better quality conversations with more vocabulary and descriptive content. “…educational programs are positively associated with overall measures of achievement and potentially long lasting effects, while purely entertainment content, particularly violent content is negatively associated with academic achievement.” (p,42) Can the uptick in school shootings and violence have anything to do with the vast amount of violence that is depicted on television, in music videos, and in video games?

Schaefer Riley says that “When we hand over phones and tablets to children we are likely changing not only the information they can access but also their habits, personalities and their tastes.” (2017, p.91) Never before has information been so readily accessible. Smart phones and tablets have changed the way that children are educated and how they interact with others. Technology is truly a double edged sword and one that all parents ought to vigilant about dolling out to their children in proper doses.

Naomi Schaefer Riley makes a compelling argument in this book about excessive use of digital media for children. Can you as parents afford to look the other way? And if you do, at what peril?