Book Review: Left To Their Own Devices?: Confident Parenting in a World of Screens by Katharine Hill

Left to Their Own Devices

Recently my parents came over for coffee, and Mum gave me a book to read that  she’d already lent to both of my sisters.  One of my sisters found it particularly useful both as a parent (although her teenagers are pretty grown up now) but also in her work as a family support worker.  She even asked Mum to send her some of the details in the Appendix to give to a family she was working with (as an aside – Mum was well impressed with herself for taking the photo and Whatsapping it to my sis – not bad at 60 something!!)

Anyway – despite me being 43 and the mother of 4, when my own mother says I should read a book then I feel like I have to (even if it won’t fit into a category on my 2017 Reading Challenge!)

Here’s the blurb:

“How do I connect with my fifteen-year-old whose phone needs to be surgically removed from her hand? “How do I stop my five-year-old from throwing an iPaddy when screen time is over? “How do I help my child to stay safe online?” Ten years ago, we didn’t need to ask these questions. But today these questions are very real. And we need answers. Katharine Hill explores the impact of the digital world on teenagers and younger children, giving practical advice on screen time, social media, and consumer culture as well as how to tackle some of the more serious issues such as cyberbullying, grooming and pornography. Whether you are cradling a newborn or riding the rollercoaster of the teenage years, a stranger to Snapchat or have 500 followers on Twitter, this book is for mums and dads who not only want to ‘cope’ with bringing up children in the world of digital technology but to be on the front foot – confidently parenting in a world of screens”

I have to say I really enjoyed the book.  I’d expected it to be all ‘the internet is awful, keep your children away from screens all the time’ etc etc – but it wasn’t at all.  It talked about how the internet can be a force for good – if used properly.  It was also good at explaining the different social media – I’m a reasonably savvy internet user (hey, I’m reviewing this on my blog – which I will share to my Facebook and Twitter accounts) – but it gave some great background on all of the different apps etc that ‘the youth of today’ enjoy.  I also found it really useful to hear the author’s stories of her one son being completely engrossed in a game and the ‘I can’t save it so I can’t come for dinner’ things  that come out of our son’s mouth almost word for word  – it was nice to know we’re not alone.

It is written in a really humorous way – and some of the cartoons in it are hilarious. But it also deals with really serious issues like grooming and pornography – and it’s definitely given me food for thought for talking to all 4 of my children about these things.

It’s got sensible advice, and sources of additional information and support – exactly what any 21st century parent needs to help them in this often tricky journey of parenting.

I have to confess I’d expected it to be a bit preachy (the foreword was written by Rob Parsons OBE who I know has had connections with my parents’ church) but this is in no way religious at all.  There’s one reference to a biblical proverb – but I’m not sure I’d even have noticed that if I wasn’t looking for it.  It’s just a really sensible guide to anyone wanting support with their parenting around the subject of IT.

I would thoroughly recommend this to parents of kids of all ages – different bits were applicable in different ways to mine aged from 14 down to 5 (in fact I did wonder if the first couple of sentences in  the blurb were written after observing our house?!?)

And I still have to ask my Mum how she’s got a signed copy!!

 

 

 

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