(The following is a review of the book Screens and Teens by Kathy Koch, Ph.D. For more information on Dr. Kathy and her book, check out her website.)
Raising happy, God-fearing children is an extremely complex task in a world filled with so many sources of information. Well-meaning families are completely overwhelmed by the prospect of managing the huge online world. Furthermore, the online world is changing so fast that parents born in the nineties will have as much to learn about as parents of the sixties and seventies.
Enter the book Screens and Teens…
Well-meaning parents find their protests against the media invasion into their families completely ineffective. Teens only hear their parents reactions as criticism and wall off during critical periods of their life and development. Rather than providing an outlook rooted in blame, this book acknowledges that media addiction is not their fault- they are a new product of the fast-changing world. However, the fresh approach offered doesn’t shirk the teen’s responsibilities associated with online access.
This book can be a game-changer because it is simplifying a complex topic into simple, straightforward solutions and interventions. The author’s answers have proven effective in reclaiming families overwhelmed by technology. She speaks from a Christian perspective on who we are and who we are called to be that stretches beyond a random sprinkling of Bible verses.
This view is critical since it helps give a clear understanding of why the internet is so successful. Playing to our five core needs of identity, security, belonging, purpose, competence, it pretends to offer all your child needs. However, these needs should be met through relationships with God and each other.
Key ideas in the book help parents understand the problems and provide solutions. In Screens and Teens, Dr. Koch divides up the challenges posed by media into five lies incorporated into a teen’s life who has been raised by media. If they have been raised by social media, even a small extent, these ideas will be present in their world view.
These lies include –
#1 – I am the center of my own universe
#2 – I deserve to be happy all the time
#3 – I must have my own choices
#4 – I am my own authority
#5 – Information is all I need so I don’t need teachers
Each of these beliefs and attitudes is examined individually, and examples are given of how this plays out. For example, if your child is always complaining, ‘I’m bored,’ he or she may be under the influence of the lie, “I deserve to be happy all the time.”
The author doesn’t stop at naming the challenges. She shows the solutions stemming from understanding what is going on. She relies on an understanding of life from your teen’s perspective. It also shows how to work with the beliefs and perspectives, not against it. Understandings of concepts, such as how your teen is operating on ‘relationship-based opinions’ are powerful tools in working painlessly with your teen. Parents matter, and if you know how to work with your child, you can be a major force in the direction of their life.
Why is this Important?
As a young adult, I can vouch for the accuracy of these words in describing both peers my age and younger. Furthermore, the world we face is so different from the challenges of our grandparents and parents, and we have no one to look towards for guidance. Avoiding tech entirely is not an option. Without technology and social media, teens would be socially isolated and unable to function in a work atmosphere.
The environment created by rampant tech is dangerous. As she says, teens today are “addicted, tired, stressed… and depressed.” As a pediatric nurse, I’ve personally witnessed the results of this new world of media. I’ve worked with many stressed kids. Some meet criteria for actual mental health diagnosis, but most are just normal kids who have become overwhelmed by the amount of social interactions they are trying to maintain. An incredible number of my patients have cited social media as one of the key stressors that caused them to act on plans of self-harm. Given my experience, I cannot stress the urgency of being aware of the tech crisis enough.
How can I make it work for my family?
Each family is different when it comes to how they manage technology. I recommend reading through with highlighters and seeing what sounds familiar. She sets examples of how these challenges are expressed, in word for word phrases, you might hear from your teens. Then read and implement her small and simple responses to begin working on rebalancing your life.
Implementing even a few of Dr. Koch’s suggestions from Screens and Teens will be enough to create a healthy tech reset. She shares so many stories of the families she has saved and strengthened through responsible technology use. Could the next one be yours?
(If you enjoyed this post, you may also like 8 Software Tools Teens can Master Today. In this post, you can learn how to make technology work for your child’s future goals.)
Sarah Frederes is a homeschool graduate and a Dakota Corps Scholarship recipient, which allowed her to attend and graduate from college debt-free with a Summa Cum Laude and a BSN. She is the oldest of eleven children and has a love and passion for music, parrots, writing, gardening, and photography. You can find more of her writing and lovely photography on her personal blog All That is Gold.