Growing Up Social {And a GIVEAWAY!}

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Dealing with screens ranks way up there with potty training and discipline as the Top Parenting Challenges we are facing, and so when I was offered an advance copy of Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane’s new book Growing Up Social (raising relational kids in a screen-driven world) – I jumped at the chance.

But then, once I got the book – I didn’t want to read it, and it languished at my bedside for several weeks.

Why? Because I was afraid of what it would say. My husband and I already battle personal fights with screens (as do many others, as evidenced by this post about smartphones in marriage being the most popular one on my blog ever), and resisting the urge to check my screen while driving remains a battle. We already have had to password protect our devices so that our children don’t steal them, the toddlers already would mimic typing on a computer or talking on a phone  – so I resisted reading the book because I was waiting for a hammer of judgment to come smashing down on my already guilt-laden conscience about this issue.

Which is, of course, exactly why I needed to read it anyway.

Chapman and Pellicane’s treatment of the topic was grace filled and refreshingly un-judgy. Compassionate, resourceful, eye-opening: they trace the challenges of raising kids in a world where screens abound. While they do touch on some of the direct dangers of too-much-screen time (the commonly touted wisdom of increased exposure to violence, a sedentary lifestyle etc), the strength of this book lies in how they reveal all the good we and our children are missing if we while away hours in front of a screen. Necessary life skills such as learning how to appreciate others, to manage anger, to apologize, show affection and to pay attention (both to people and the world) are all skills forged in the field of relational-time: creative play time, the sports field and conversation – and it is exactly those times which are forfeited when we allow screens to buffer our families.

I may have spent the first two chapters on my guard, waiting to be told off for being a bad parent, but as I was reading I soon dropped my defenses and began to read in earnest – highlighting sentences here and there, circling practical tips of ways to engage my family on certain issues. And yes, I realized (once again) that I need to revisit my own attitudes towards screens – for relational behavior is ultimately caught more than it is taught.

I feel I should add that this is not a book with Luddite sensibilities. Chapman and Pelican are not anti-technology, or even anti social-media. However, they are cautious about allowing these things a proper place in our lives. As they wisely state at the opening of the book: the question is whether technology is brining your family closer together, or whether it is driving your family further apart? 

Friends: it’s a good book. And more than that – it’s a NEEDED book because this is the world we live in. We all want to win at parenting. We want children who know how to navigate life, love well, and thrive relationally. If they are to do that, screens and social media need to have a healthy place in their lives, and this book is a really helpful resource in thinking the issue through.

I have one copy of Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane’s book to give away. Enter to win below. Entries close Friday 10/24/2014 at midnight PST, and the winner will be announced in this weekend’s Pick of the Clicks.

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28 thoughts on “Growing Up Social {And a GIVEAWAY!}”

  1. Thank you for your transparency about putting off actually reading the book. When I read the title, I thought, “I should read that.” Then my next thought was, “But what are we going to have to change that I don’t want to?” You have made it sound like it is worth the struggle!

    1. Agree! It’s one of those “I want to change, but I don’t want to do the work necessary” things for me!

  2. With this warning about flashlight apps being only the latest in the ways our devices can be turned against us, it appears we have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind. Anything we can do to improve our self-control and to wean ourselves of this addiction will serve us well when the systems that grew without foresight collapse like a house of cards.

  3. Thanks for this review! I’ve seen the book advertised, and it sounds really worthwhile. I suppose my struggle currently is not so much how to keep my kids away from screens (though especially my boys will jump at every opportunity given them), it’s my fear of what they may be exposed to while unmonitored, even accidentally. Thanks for starting this conversation, and for the giveaway!

  4. Thanks for such a thoughtful and honest post. We are navigating far different technology parenting challenges than our own parents did (mine worried most about Atari games and MTV music videos!). I appreciated your honesty about stalling in reading the book…my feelings exactly. Looking forward to reading this book!

  5. Wow. Yes I need to read this book, and yet I’m afraid. Lol. Thank you for this giveaway. Much needed indeed. I’m finding that I’m not doing so well in finding that balance. Very difficult to encourage personal interaction among my children when I’m also guilty of having a device nearly always (it seems ) in my hands or nearby. Yikes. 🙁

  6. Bronwyn, does the book talk about how to handle school-related screen time? My daughters’ school gives the kids ipads for school work and homework, with many resources and textbooks on the ipad (or laptop, for the high schoolers). I should add that it is strongly filtered (this is a Christian school) and it’s not until 6th grade that the kids are allowed to take them home. The public schools in the area went in this direction, too; they didn’t plan ahead, though, and the disastrous results were one reason we pulled our kids out and sent them to a Christian school.

    I’m curious to know how Chapman and Pelican say parents should handle this particular type of screen type.

    1. Laura, the book doesn’t expressly deal with screens and school policy, although the impact of screens in learning, brain development, social skills etc is covered in detail and those factors are obviously of interest to educators. I am sorry to hear that the local public schools got burned with too rapid an introduction of new technology. I hope this has caused the community to do some wise re-thinking of how to handle these opportunities in a more responsible way. While this book doesn’t deal with screens in education directly, I do think it is of benefit for parents and educators to read through, as it gives a number of talking points and things to consider when one does come to having that conversation at the PTA level.

  7. I second your recommendation of “Growing up Social.” Readers do not need to worry about a long session of hand-wringing and guilt. Instead, the overarching theme is to live intentionally and to teach our children to do the same. It’s the mindless, purposeless use of technology that is getting folks in trouble and Chapman & Pellicane provide an excellent framework for thinking about how families should use and enjoy technology in their homes.

  8. My husband and I were just talking about this! We said we need to start talking about it now even though Josh is only 9 months old… it’s going to creep up on us soon!

  9. “I feel I should add that this is not a book with Luddite sensibilities.”

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Luddite sensibilities, mind you.

  10. I have recently been thinking about this same thing! My kids are teenagers I can see how much social media affects their lives and their friends lives.I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that growing up. It gives a platform to compare others to yourself and judge people.Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. It’s a constant challenge for me as well and with one teen and one preteen, very much a part of their lives too. I too might be reluctant to read because technology is here to stay. We need to optimize it’s value and presence in our lives.

  12. Screen time is definitely a difficult topic and now I really want to read that book!! I’m a big fan of Dr, Gary Chapman. I look forward to reading his and his co-author’s thoughts on the subject.

  13. I just listened to the authors’ broadcast regarding this book on the Daily Focus Broadcast. Some good information and insights for raising kids’ in a technology age. Thank you for sharing!

  14. I love Gary Chapman and would love to read his book. I remember when he was asking for opinions, on choosing the cover layout, that I couldn’t wait until it was published.
    BTW, the give away, falls on my birthday! ;o)



  16. I’m so intrigued by this book! I feel the tension: screens are so easy and convenient in the short term, but not for the long term!

  17. We’re soon approaching screen time decisions for Jack. I can imagine how nice it would be to allow him to sit and watch something for a “little while” so I could get other things done. I know of the medical side to this issue but hadn’t thought of some of the social impacts you mentioned here. Would be a great book for us to read!

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