How do you choose which parenting books you will read?

I’ll be honest, if any book looks like it might make me feel guilty or that it really won’t apply to me, I skip it. There are so many books out there to choose from and time is limited for busy parents.

Today I’m sharing highlights from a book I avoided for awhile because just looking at the cover made me feel anxious and worried. Glow Kids* didn’t look like it applied to me. My kids don’t look like the screen-entranced kid on the cover, nor do I think they are addicted to screens. However, so many experts recommended this book; I had to find out why.

And now, I’m the one recommending it.

I’m warning you, this book shares plenty of worst-case scenarios. We all hope that that our kids won’t be the ones addicted to technology (video games, pornography, social media, etc.),  but we can never predict the future. It’s best to be aware and be proactive.

The best part of this book is that it was written by a one of our country’s top addiction experts, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, who was once an addict himself. He knows how addiction works.

In Glow Kids,* Kardaras shares detailed research and I think his book will motivate you to come up with some preventative strategies for your family. We can’t eliminate all of the potential risks, but we can drastically reduce risk when armed with knowledge and a plan.

I’m going back to my podcast copywriting days and sharing my favorite takeaways from Glow Kids including warnings and strategies you can use to help your family!

Warnings:

  • The gaming industry makes video games addictive on purpose. The higher the dopamine rush, the better. “The addictive potential of video games is NOT an accident. I describe the multi-billion dollar gaming industry and their concerted efforts via behavioral psychologist and certain specific dopamine “hooks” built into the games to purposely make games addicting, in order to hook children at a young age—and hook them for life.” (XVIII)
  • Our kids may get so used to hyper-stimulating screen media that they will be impatient with nature. (p. 27)
  • Exposure to screen imagery is actually dulling our very senses. Allow kids to use all their sense as much as possible. (p. 29)
  • Our kids are not going to lag behind because you delayed screen use until they were older. Remember Bill Gates didn’t use a computer until he was 13 and Steve Jobs when he was 12. Yes, it was a different era, but does that really matter? Our kids will catch on when the time is right. (p.32)
  • We are all different. Some people are more likely to become addicted than others. “In what I call the “perfect storm” model of addiction, we understand that various factors such as genetics, environment, psychology and neurobiology come together to create the explosive phenomenon of addiction. But it’s also important to keep in mind that no one person’s perfect storm of addiction is exactly the same as anyone else’s; the intensity and combination of factors contributing to the addiction are a unique amalgam within each person.” (p. 58-59)
  • Chapter Three, Digital Drugs and the Brain, is fascinating! We get a dopamine “tickle” from using technology, more so from video games and virtual experiences. “How dopaminergic (dopamine activating) a substance or behavior is correlates very highly with the addictive potential of that substance or behavior. Dopamine is the feel-good neurotransmitter that’s the most critical element in the addiction process.” (p. 60)
  • We need to be wary of isolating and hyper-individualistic experiences. “…Social beings put in physical, mental, or cultural isolation— “cages” if you will—are more susceptible to addiction, including behavioral addictions like excessive Internet use.” (p. 71)
  • How do we know if someone is an addict? “…If a person is using a substance or engaging in a behavior in such a compulsive way that it negatively affects—or ever destroys—his or her life, then we can say that addiction is at hand.” (p. 73)
  • Suicide rates have increased by 60 percent over the past 50 years. Keep in mind that “social media can act as an accelerant on a psychiatric fire.” (p. 84, p. 100)
  • Prioritize quality teachers over technology. “There never has been—nor will there ever be—a more dynamic learning context than face-to-face in close proximity. Everything possible should be done to protect that timeless environment from interruption and distraction.” (p. 111)
  • Are screens one cause of attention deficit disorders? By using “tech fasts” researchers almost always see a significant decline in clinical symptoms. (p. 125)
  • You can find research to support whatever belief you want to belief. You will find studies that show that video gaming has no affect on the brain. The studies will typically be linked to the same researcher that works with video gaming companies. That’s why parents have to be smart. (p. 143)
  • Always prioritize reading in your family. “Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary…in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not.” (p. 203)
  • Some people are predisposed toward addiction. Be mindful of this. (p. 238)

Strategies:

  • Delay giving your kids a personal device as long as possible. Let your kids be kids! “Let them play, explore, create, use their imagination and just watch the miracles of their developing minds unfold.” (p. XXI)
  • Allow your kids the opportunity to be bored. “There is no better master for innate creativity than a child compelled to entertain themselves. If at all possible, don’t fall into the trap of feeling obligated to keep your little ones” (and I’m adding your big ones!), “perpetually entertained. You will do more harm than good.” (p. XXI)
  • Maybe we need to let our kids experience life, ride a bike and crash, run to a friend’s house, climb a tree, and on and on.  There are several examples in the book of parents who had to be gone working, (a valid and real scenario), and they felt their kids were safer stuck at home playing a video game than “running the streets like other kids.” Are they safer? (p. 10)
  • Do your best to have family dinner together. Most of us know this, but we have to make a concerted effort. “Every evening Steve (Jobs) made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer.” (p. 31)
  • Involve your kids in hand-on tasks and in learning life skills. (p. 32)
  • Research shows that the brain retains information better read from paper than a screen and that students who take notes by hand are more successful on tests than those who type their notes on a computer.” I believe this! (p. 33)
  • It’s never too late to change your brain! (Or your child’s.) My personal takeaway is that technology can change our brain and we should do our best to prevent that, but never throw your hands up in the air and proclaim that all is lost. Make a change! (p. 47-48)
  • Stay connected physically with those you love. (Have you heard of Collin Kartchner talking about the 8-second hug?) There is a physiological aspect of friendship that Facebook friends can never replace.” “We underestimate how important touch is in the social world.” (p. 93)
  • Kids need healthy human connections and healthy hobbies and outlets. (p. 237)
  • In situations where kids have become addicts, full digital detoxes have been very effective. Cutting down bit by bit is usually better than going cold turkey. (p. 238)
  • Spend time in nature, allow time for unstructured play, maintain loving relationships with adults, engage in creative pursuits such as music, drama, painting, and pursue hands-on activities that involve creative verbal expression (so they can communicate!). (p. 242)
  • Identify “digital vegetables” (tech with a positive component) and “digital candy” (only recreational and spikes dopamine) and try to create more than you consume.

*As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.