13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2012
Road rules for the information superhighway. From the science behind changes in the brains of our youth to the direct feedback from a 20+ year college professor who notes what our kids don't do well anymore.... focus, write clearly and effectively, and pay attention, here's a book from someone who embraces technology, but respectfully requests that we exercise self control in how we implement that technology into our lives.
You may not feel that there's much "new ground" in terms of what amounts to relative common sense suggestions for how to limit technological and social media influences, but there's more here than just a laundry list of suggestions. This is a well thought out, well reasoned manual for planning to succeed with social media. There is no complete shunning of all things world wide web related, but there is an thorough exploration of the practical application of technology.
I appreciate that the author doesn't attempt to shock and awe the reader, but instead chooses to provide meaningful insight on a subject that can be scary because of how ill informed older generations are. Here is an author who encourages us to get to know this world in which our children play and interact with one another. He suggests that we understand it by experiencing it so that we can help influence children to make the right decisions for themselves.
Finally, there is a wise message in these pages...that adults should embrace their roles as adults....by setting firm guidelines for the use of technology and then serving as good examples. Easier said than done....but necessary all the same.
Enlightening, thoughtful, and more complete than other books that attempt to cover a similar point of view. Well worth anyone's time - especially parents.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2012
Attention Parents, Teachers, and School Administrators! I have never written a recommendation before, but I have come across a book of such exceptional relevance, practical advice, and readability, I am taking this opportunity to do so now. The book is Talking Back to Facebook - The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, by James Steyer.
The author is a professor at Stanford where he teaches civil rights, civil liberties, and children's issues. He is CEO of Common Sense Media. He has strong credentials, but his highest is the fact that he has four kids...all digital natives.
The book is a MUST read if you are a parent, but it also offers outstanding guideposts and advice for questions most parents are -or should be - asking. He tackles hard issues straight-on and avoids being patronizing or unrealistic about the range of choices and decisions both children and parents must make in today's technology-driven social and educational environments. I found different sections of this book appealed to me as an educator, father, and grandparent of a 4 year old with another due in the Fall.
To give you a flavor of his thesis: he addresses digital media issues based on the acronym RAP - Relationships, Attention/Addiction, and Privacy. His rule of thumb for living in the Digital Age (where data never dies)- which I've already quoted to my teachers, some parents, and my Sunday school class - is that children/students/teens must learn (be taught) to SELF-REFLECT before they SELF-REVEAL.
In his classes at Stanford he has observed that today's students are less able to concentrate, write well, think coherently, or synthesize information than students of a few years ago. Also, his students appear to have shorter attention spans, and diminished memory capacity. Yes, he blames over-use and over-reliance on technology. And yes, it can be fixed.
From cyber-bullying to privacy issues raised when parents post pictures of their newborns, he offers some of the clearest points and most useable advice I've encountered in all my reading on the clutter of technology-based issues in our social, educational, personal environments.
Trust me: this is one book you really should read this summer. It is not a rambling theoretical, esoteric, impractical academic pontification from Olympus. It's an enjoyable read...AND:
It may help you with issues involving your own kids.
It may help you address issues on your campus.
I can almost guarantee you will find yourself using and passing some of his advice on to others before you even finish the book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2012
A timely wake-up call to help us see how much the media world is changing around us and its impact on our kids. A quick and easy read that raises important questions and thinks to ponder. Glad someone is bringing this stuff up.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
James Steyer, acclaimed founder of Common Sense Media, has written often in articles and websites on the affect that social networks are having on our children. In his latest book, "Talking Back to Facebook" (Scribner 2012), Steyer discusses worries on every parent's mind about the social media engulfing our children.
With so much of education and play time revolving around digital devices like iPads, computers, Wii, apps, and more, parents have a right to be concerned and should question whether this tsunamic trend is healthy for a child's developing cognitive and psychological functions. Steyer's premise is that the obsession with Facebook and its ilk, as it seeps into younger and younger age groups, can be dangerous and must be controlled. To support his hypothesis, he covers important topics such as:
*Your child's brain on computer
*Loss of privacy
*Why your child is at risk
*The end of innocence
*Embracing the positives of digital media
*Kids as data to marketers
He also provides a much-needed guide for parents on digital media topics their children face at different ages and what parents can/should do about it, including:
*An age specific summary
*What parents want to know
*What parents need to know
Pleasantly, much of his advice is common sense. Moderation is good. Extremes are bad. Pay attention to your child's life. Don't be afraid to step in. He gives parents permission to trust their instincts and create rules/guidelines for the digital natives they are raising. His approach in dispensing advice is to act as a mentor--a trusted adult from whom we seek advice. Rather than a pros-and-con factual summary of available information, he chooses data that supports his hypothesis. I'm not denigrating this approach. It's one of two common approaches by which we-all arrive at a conclusion:
*Deductive reasoning--look at all the facts and draw a conclusion
*Inductive reasoning--state a hypothesis and do the research to prove (or disprove) it. Of course, if Steyer had disproved his premise, he wouldn't have written the book
For as long as man has problem-solved (which could be as long as a million years, but I'll leave that factoid to the paleoanthropologists), we have used either deductive or inductive reasoning. I'm fine with his use of inductive. What made me scratch my head a few times was what he considered 'supporting evidence':
*I don't know why Chelsea Clinton is qualified to write the forward on a book about parenting and social media. What is her expertise? I was left wondering if it was her celebrity.
*I have to believe there are more reliable sources on technology in education than MoveOn.org (page 85). ISTE comes to mind. How about the Department of Education?
*Too often (which in my case is more than twice), Steyer made broad statements and/or cognitive leaps that he presented as commonly-accepted facts, not bothering with proof. Yes, we as parents may believe them, but we're reading the book to buttress our argument. For example:
"In Egypt...one of the most important leaders of the movement that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak after nearly three decades of dictatorial rule was a Google executive who posted key messages on the Internet that helped coalesce the protests."(pg. 85)
Really? I've never read that before. My mind is open, but where's the proof? Here's another:
"...in 2004, Google announced it would digitize all the books in the world. That was a cool idea. But the company didn't bother to ask the permission of the authors who wrote those books... Google folks apparently failed to consider or at least underestimated the intellectual property and personal ownership issues involved..." (pg. 89)
Am I supposed to believe a behemoth like Google figured no one would notice their infringement on intellectual property laws around since 1978 (or longer)? Prove this and I'll pull all my books from Google Play. He provides no proof.
In fairness to Steyer, there are many times he provided evidence from sources everyone would accept as legitimate. Maybe the above examples are simply bad editing--he could have cleaned them up, but Scribner didn't think it necessary. Who knows? What I do know is their presence in an otherwise exemplary book casts doubt on his agenda in writing the book.
In the end, though the premise of the book is manifestly believable, empirical evidence is lacking at critical moments. For the reader to reach Steyer's conclusions often requires a high level of trust in the author's words and logic. That's why I gave it four stars as an average: If you trust Steyer's credentials and believe his sources, it's five stars. If you wish he'd been more balanced with more relevant sources, it's three stars. Read it. Draw your own conclusions. Whichever side you end up on, you'll benefit from thinking through these topics and hearing this man's point of view.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2014
I have read a number of books and article about the effects of internet media on our brains, social lives, privacy, and sense of self, so I was looking forward to reading this one. However, I was EXREMELY disappointed. Steyer fluffs up this book with a lot of opinions and repetitious information. He briefly touches on concepts about the impact of media that are explained in a more interesting and thorough way in other sources (e.g., Sherry Turkle's "Alone Together," Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows"--both outstanding), but he does not add much to the mix. In the second half of the book where he talks about the appropriateness of media use across different age groups, he provides the same suggestions over and over again. Limit the time your kids use media, enforce rules, preview it, watch it with them, use it as an opportunity to explain your values, help them select educational games/shows. This main advice could have been summarized in a chart rather than extended in boring endless vapid detail over half the book.
If you are a layperson wanting to read a more useful and practical book about how to help your kids handle internet media, I'd suggest "LOL... OMG!" But if you are more fascinated by exactly how media is affecting our development, I'd recommend "Alone Together" and "The Shallows." This book is terrible and a waste of money; I plan to donate it to my local thrift store.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2012
A marvelous book! Steyer not only looks at the "big picture" of the sweeping changes taking place in our society due to the immense popularity of new mobile devices and social media, but also offers the most practical advice possible to parents on how to help their child safely and productively navigate the new landscape of our plugged-in world. For parents of children of all ages, with specific advice year by year. Common Sense Media, which Steyer founded, is an incredible resource for ratings of children's media, including now the educational value of apps. Thank you, James Steyer, for thinking and writing about this crucial issue!
on January 13, 2013
Although I am not a parent, I really enjoyed how descriptive this book was. It shared a lot of points about privacy, freedom and what you should stay away from. The author had a lot to say about the benefits and the negaitve side of Facebook and what people can do to protect their indentity. One of the main things I loved about this book was that the author did not criticize Facebook but simply shared his viewpoints about what he thought, based on personal experience, interviews and other things.
This helped me look at Facebook differently, and monitor what I share.
I will reccomend this book to anyone, parent, teacher or student. It can be read by all ages.
on March 11, 2013
This book supplied both well documented facts on the impact of prolonged digital exposure to children and adults. I found his his examples on how to balance the use of digital media for maxim benefit especially useful.This book is a tool that can be used by parents so they can make informed decisions for the good of their children. Digital media is neither all good or all bad. I wish I had read this book while I was still in the elementary classroom. I have already given a book to parents of young children.
on February 26, 2014
This book was selected in a Parent Book Club (children in grades k - 8). Our goals are to strive
to be ahead of what may be coming our kids way. Talking Back to Facebook was not only an
eye opener, as I have a FB account that is minimally used, but offered an array of useful
information that I will be referencing for a very long time.
Thank You - James Steyer for addressing the issues we are and will be facing as concerned parents!
on June 11, 2012
With Jim Steyer's intimate knowledge of the industry, education background and parenting insight, you get to see the impact social media is having on our kids. He shows strength in conviction and offers parents ideas and solutions to managing not only social media, but all forms of technology in the home. It is a great read for parents of children of all ages, even offering ideas for specific age groups.