Read It: Glow Kids

August 27, 2018

I learned about Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D. during a conference about childhood anxiety from the Institute of Child Psychology. It provided a lot of invaluable information for my day job, but also made me realise that there were some things going on at home that needed to be attended to. One of the things that was mentioned a bit was screen time, and Glow Kids was a book that was recommended on the subject. I went to the bookstore as soon as the conference was done.

The book starts off with some interesting information about addiction and the way that our brains work (some of which I had also learned at the childhood anxiety conference), and a little bit of Kardaras' own history with video games and tech addiction. Then it moves into some serious information about video games and aggression (I had always been one of those people that doesn't like to put the blame on television or other forms of media for a child's behaviour), to how having tech in classrooms isn't really as educational as we thought, and, by the end of the book, into what we can do about it all.

Keeping in mind that Kardaras is sharing the worst of the worst when it comes to screen addiction, I was able to quickly see that a screen/tech detox was something my husband and I needed to do for our son. His behaviours were nowhere near the children that were being described in the book, but there was potential in the future and it scared me.

I was never one to want my child to need a screen in his face all the time. I have never given him my phone in the car, or on shopping trips, etc., but that doesn't mean that other people didn't do that for him when I wasn't around, or that I didn't let him have the tablet to watch a movie or play game while on a longer road trip (at the age of 3), or at the end of the day while my husband and I were making supper. I admit that my child had more screen time than I ever wanted to let him have.

We went through a detox like the book talked about during a particularly difficult time for him in school and at home, and, as hard as it was to go screen free, we found that it really helped him to take that break. But it's something that you can't relax on or you'll get back into it, and it takes some looking at what you do as well as an example for your child. I am far from perfect myself, and will say that I am addicted to my phone.

We have entered our second detox as we prepare to go back to school, and this time we are really stressing that he find things to exercise his imagination. It's okay to be bored. It's through the boredom that you are able to figure out something to do to pass the time, and next time you won't be as bored because you'll know what to do. 

I myself am trying to put my phone down a lot more and read, paint, or watch a show or movie without being distracted by Twitter or Instagram. It's hard and takes a lot of focus. So, as an adult, if I find it difficult to focus on not focusing on a screen, I can only begin to imagine what it's like for my son. This book brought about a pivotal moment of parental learning that I wish I had had sooner, but I'm glad I didn't have it too late. It was the push I needed to move beyond the screen.

*Believe me, I get the irony of you reading this on your phone or computer right now.

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