The standard formula for books on kids, the media, culture, etc. is to describe various studies and to illustrate with real-life stories. This is actually a pretty good formula and was what I was expecting when I started reading “Raising Generation Tech: Preparing Your Children for a Media-Fueled World”. Instead, the author, Jim Taylor does things a little differently. Yes he does go over some of the new research and yes he includes some real life anecdotes, but what stood out for me was his philosophical take on the storied relationship between children, media and family.
As someone who has read extensively on how media is affecting both children and adults, I wasn’t expecting anything particularly new. But you can tell Dr. Taylor has thought about this deeply and has found some new, very interesting ways of looking at these media issues. For example:
– on the advantages of living an “unmediated life”, not a no-technology life, but a life where media does not play a central role in one’s life.
– “externalization of Self-Identity”, how children develop a self-identity, and how this process is being usurped by corporate media (i.e. Popular Culture).
– how Popular Culture teaches a distorted view of reality and a false self
– how parents themselves are often overly focused on technology to the detriment of family life.
A number of parenting how-to books have come out looking at the effects of technology on kids and family life. All too often the emphasis in on the internet, video games, texting and social media, with barely any mention of television. But children still spend more time watching TV than any of the new technologies combined, so that pretending that it is not an issue makes no sense. Luckily “Raising Generation Tech” does not make that mistake.
For parents looking for some hard and fast rules, you won’t find them here. But Dr. Taylor does provide ample new ways for looking at the problems of media overuse, and he very much encourages parents to think about and be aware of how much technology their kids are consuming. And whether parents want to raise their own children, or let technology and corporate media (pop culture) step in and raise their children for them.
Dr. Taylor writes in a breezy, easy-to-read manner, yet his subject matter is in many ways philosophical and deep. I would definitely recommend “Raising Generation Tech”.