I am a Generation X parent of a five- and three-year old. As a small child, I entertained myself with realia—blocks, figures, riding my bike, and various other tangible toys. As a twelve-year old, Nintendo entered my life, and from that day on, my fun time was split between the realia I had known and the virtual realia of video games. It’s not a surprise to me that after universe I essentially gave up on video games (only picking them back up again a couple years ago) given I was feeding my need for brain food with books, nature, and music, and I didn’t get a mobile phone until I was in my thirties. But what about my kids? They are essentially guinea pigs. First generation to have mobile devices, let alone console video games, in their lives from day one. What effect does that have? In Raising a Screen-Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age (2019), Julianna Miner tackles what we know to date in this ongoing experiment, and what is healthy for our kids.
First and foremost, Raising a Screen-Smart Kid is targeted at parents with kids ten and older. ‘Targeted’ not meaning what you think it might mean, in this case it means that kids less than ten shouldn’t have their own mobile devices given what is known, or have proven themselves exceptionally responsible. So, right off the bat, it’s not for myself and my children. Nevertheless, it proved fascinating preparation for the day (coming all too soon) that they will be starting to go going through puberty, establish their own identities through friends, and become independent users of technology.