Book Recommendations

Our partners are invaluable to our mission. The Children’s Screen Time Action Network and Galilee Carlisle have helped us compile this list of suggested readings. We have room for more. Let us know what we missed!

Adam Alter

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

• In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today's products are irresistible. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.

By reverse engineering behavioral addiction, Alter explains how we can harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play—and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, and the health and happiness of our children.

Lee Binz

TechnoLogic: How to Set Logical Technology Boundaries

• It's a new world for teens and technology: Parenting has always been challenging, but these days the hardest parts of parenting teens involve navigating around ever-changing gadgets and technology. Whether dealing with phones, tablets, computers, social media, or video games, parents need help managing this new electronic environment. Like brushing their teeth and eating their vegetables, kids need to know why healthy media habits are important. Misuse of technology is a real and present danger that can lead to a zombie apocalypse in your home. This eye-opening book offers hope for parents battling the technology monster. Learn how to deal with the harsh reality of technology in your home and how to set technology boundaries for healthy and happy children and teens.

Patricia Cantor, Ed.D - Patricia Cantor is a professor in the Early Childhood Studies Department at Plymouth State University, where she teaches courses in childhood development, infant and toddler care, and policy in early childhood. She is actively engaged in advocacy efforts and organizations that seek to increase the accessibility and quality of early education and childcare.

Techwise Infant and Toddler Teachers: Making Sense of Screen Media for Children Under 3 (2017)

• This book explores the complex issues associated with child learning and development in an increasingly screen-centric world. In one of the only books to focus exclusively on children under 3 years old, Dr. Cantor takes a comprehensive look at fields such as child psychology and pediatric medicine. She argues that in order to facilitate healthy development, teachers and caretakers should exercise caution when utilizing screen media when working with infants and toddlers.

Nicholas Carr

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

• “Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

Now, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”―from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer―Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic―a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption―and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes―Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive―even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

Hillarie Cash and Kim Mcdaniel

Video Games & Your Kids - How Parents Stay in Control

• Video games are now firmly embedded in the cultural identity of America s teenagers. It is now estimated that 90 percent of our youth are playing video games. They are using handheld devices or full-fledged, Internet-based, multiplayer games. Most are nonchalant about them, enjoying them as part of the many things they do for pleasurable entertainment, integrating them into their lives without harmful effect. Others, however, have grown so dependent on these games that they are abandoning their lives to pursue this activity, which they seem to prefer above all others. Video Games & Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control is for parents who are worried that their children may be spending too much time playing video games. Based on research and the author s clinical experience, the book explains what gaming addiction is, how much gaming is too much, and the effects gaming has on the body and brain. The authors give gaming advice on each stage of life; birth-2 years, ages 2-6, elementary school years, adolescence, and adult children still living at home. Where there is a problem, the authors provide parents with tools that will help them successfully set limits for their children.

Raffi Cavoukian

Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Be4 It Re-Forms Us

• Lightweb Darkweb makes the case for the critical need to reform social media, especially for young users. Its author, Raffi Cavoukian, the renowned singer, Raffi, is also a writer, systems thinker, and founder of the Centre For Child Honouring. He offers three reasons for social media reform: safety, intelligence, and sustainability. A response to the suicide of Vancouver teen Amanda Todd after years of online harassment, and dedicated to her, Lightweb Darkweb is a call for sanity in the digital age:

-social media providers must make systemic changes for young users safety
-parents need to regulate their kids screen time and social media use
-society can optimize the benefits of the Internet only by reducing its shadow of social, ecological and health hazards. 

Lightweb Darkweb highlights children s developmental needs as a key missing consideration in the digital revolution. The result is a much-needed book for our times.

*Joe Clement and Matt Miles

Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology is Making Our Kids Dumber

• As two veteran teachers who have taught thousands of students, Joe Clement and Matt Miles have seen firsthand how damaging technology overuse and misuse has been to our students. Rather than becoming better problem solvers, kids look to Google to answer their questions for them. Rather than becoming the great equalizer, electronic devices are widening the achievement gap. On a mission to educate and empower parents, Clement and Miles provide many real-world examples and cite multiple studies showing how technology use has created a wide range of cognitive and social deficits in our young people. They lift the veil on what’s really going on at school: teachers who are powerless to curb cell phone distractions; zoned-out kids who act helpless and are unfocused, unprepared, and antisocial; administrators who are too-easily swayed by the pro-tech “science” sponsored by corporate technology purveyors. They provide action steps parents can take to demand change and make a compelling case for simpler, smarter, more effective forms of teaching and learning.

Andy Crouch

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place

• Drawing on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, Andy Crouch shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? Anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology's distractions will find in this book a path forward to reclaiming their real life in a world of devices. 

Tracy Cutchlow - In addition to writing Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science and editing Brain Rules, and Brain Rules for Baby, Tracy Cutchlow is a journalist at the Seattle Times, has been featured in The Washington Post, and publishes weekly tips and advice for new and expecting parents.

Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science (and What I’ve Learned So Far) (2015)

• In this concise and accessible resource, Tracy Cutchlow combines scientific research on child development with her own experience raising her daughter to create a warm, honest, and comprehensive fountain of advice for parents of all experience levels. A must-read for expecting, new, and established parents of children growing up in an increasingly technological world.

Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D. - Dr. Victoria Dunckley is a board-certified, award-winning child psychiatrist and consultant who focuses especially on the physiological impact of screen-time on the developing nervous system. She has worked in a variety of settings, including residential treatment centers and clinics which serve adoptive and foster youths. She has a passion for treating children with complex or treatment-resistant mental health conditions.

Reset Your Child’s Brain (2015)

• Dr. Dunckley believes that excessive screen-time has an over-stimulating effect on children’s developing nervous system, and that this is evidenced by the growing number of children diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. In Reset Your Child’s Brain, she helps parents create action plans to intervene and decrease their children’s struggles with emotional, learning, or behavioral issues.

Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, M.D. - Dr. Kathleen Clarke-Pearson is a pediatrician and advocate for policy issues such as children’s health care, education, and nutrition. She is an active member of several child advocacy groups, including the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Media and Communications, and has co-authored such publications as “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” (Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, Gwenn, Clarke-Pearson, MD, Kathleen (2011). “Clinical Report - The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” The American Academy of Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054).

*Richard Freed, Ph.D. - Dr. Richard Freed is a child and adolescent psychologist and advocate who regularly writes for magazines such as The New York Times and The Atlantic, and speaks internationally to parents, teachers, and health care providers. He is passionate about ensuring the mental health of children growing up in this evolving media world, particularly by giving parents the skills they need to promote school success and use technology productively.

Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age (2015)

• In an increasingly digital world with heightened emotional and academic problems in children, Dr. Freed argues that children’s fascination with video games, social media, and texting weakens their family relationships and academic success. In Wired Child, he offers parenting strategies to help people improve these family relationships and encourage their children to focus on educational success, from learning the math basics to applying for college admission.

Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D

Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids — And How to Break the Trance

In Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras will examine how technology―more specifically, age-inappropriate screen tech, with all of its glowing ubiquity―has profoundly affected the brains of an entire generation. Brain imaging research is showing that stimulating glowing screens are as dopaminergic (dopamine activating) to the brain’s pleasure center as sex. And a growing mountain of clinical research correlates screen tech with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that cocaine addiction can.

Kardaras will dive into the sociological, psychological, cultural, and economic factors involved in the global tech epidemic with one major goal: to explore the effect all of our wonderful shiny new technology is having on kids. Glow Kids also includes an opt-out letter and a "quiz" for parents in the back of the book.

*Susan Linn, Ed. D. - A co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and lecturer of Psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School, Dr. Susan Linn helped launch the movement against corporate marketing for children. She has written extensively about the effects of media and marketing on children. Lauded for her work using puppets in child psychotherapy, her research has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, The Colbert Report, and The Boston Globe. She is also an award-winning ventriloquist!

Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood (2004)

• An activist herself, Susan Linn looks at marketing and advertising to children, calling for parents, teachers, and lawmakers to put checks on corporate marketers for the health and well being of children. She draws from child development theory and contemporary research to argue against child-targeted marketing and in favor of improving child health, education and creativity. A must-read for parents who feel helpless in the face of the increasing commercialization of our culture.

Jonathan McKee

52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid: How to Engage with Kids Who Can’t Seem to Pry Their Eyes from Their Devices!

• In 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid, author Jonathan McKee offers just the help you need to have meaningful interaction with your kids instead of always overreacting to their unhealthy consumption of technology and media. In a world where over 80 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds now own a smartphone, parents are searching for ways to pry their kids’ eyes from their devices and engage them in real, face-to-face conversation. Mckee--drawing from his 20-plus years of experience working with teenagers, studying youth culture, and raising three teens of his own--provides an abundant supply of useful tips and creative ideas to help you bond with the Smartphone Generation. 

Camilla Rees

Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side Of The Wireless Revolution

• Electromagnetic factors in health is an emerging public health issue globally, creating electrical sensitivity and being linked to illnesses of many kinds. Read this primer on EMF and health by Prof. Magda Havas of Canada and environmental activist and management consultant to change agents, Camilla Rees, founder of Learn what the independent science shows, what you can do to create electromagnetic safety and how you can help get Congress to pay attention to this important issue affecting humans, animals and nature. This book resulted from 110 Questions asked of the audience at The Commonwealth Club of California in 2008, the nations leading public affairs forum.

Tony Reinke and John Piper

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

• Drawing from the insights of numerous thinkers, published studies, and his own research, writer Tony Reinke identifies twelve potent ways our smartphones have changed us—for good and bad. Reinke calls us to cultivate wise thinking and healthy habits in the digital age, encouraging us to maximize the many blessings, to avoid the various pitfalls, and to wisely wield the most powerful gadget of human connection ever unleashed.

Larry D. Rosen, PhD

iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology

• iDisorder: changes to your brain's ability to process information and your ability to relate to the world due to your daily use of media and technology resulting in signs and symptoms of psychological disorders - such as stress, sleeplessness, and a compulsive need to check in with all of your technology. Based on decades of research and expertise in the "psychology of technology," Dr. Larry Rosen offers clear, down-to-earth explanations for why many of us are suffering from an "iDisorder." Rosen offers solid, proven strategies to help us overcome the iDisorder we all feel in our lives while still making use of all that technology offers. Our world is not going to change, and technology will continue to penetrate society even deeper leaving us little chance to react to the seemingly daily additions to our lives. Rosen teaches us how to stay human in an increasingly technological world.

*Cris A. Rowan

Virtual Child: The Terrifying Truth about What Technology Is Doing to Children

• Children now use an average 8 hours per day of entertainment technology with profound impact on their physical, mental, social and academic development. One third of North American children enter school developmentally delayed, and child obesity is now a national epidemic. One in six children has a diagnosed mental illness, with child aggression and unmanageable behaviour increasingly the norm. One in six children cannot pay attention and require learning assistance. With research now showing causal links between physical, mental, social and academic disorders in children who overuse technology, schools and homes continue to escalate unrestricted use. Virtual Child offers parents, health and education professionals innovative tools and techniques to enhance child development and academic performance, while managing balanced use of technology. Modifications to home and school structure and environment, serve to ensure that every new millennium child will achieve a healthy, productive and sustainable future.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ph.D

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

• The benefits of having infinite information at our fingertips are extraordinary, and we are connected more than ever, but as the focus of family has turned to the glow of the screen and quick-twitch communications, parents often feel they are losing control of family life, and worse, the means for meaningful connection with the children they love. 

As clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair shows, these chronic distractions can have deep and lasting effects. Children don't need adults constantly, but they do need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, meaningful interactions with family and friends. Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical and consulting work, Steiner-Adair offers insight and advice that can help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence as they come up against the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms. 

With fresh eyes, an open mind and the will to act on what we see and learn, Steiner-Adair argues, we have the opportunity now to nourish our families and protect and prepare our children for meaningful life in a digital age that is here to stay.

Sherry Turkle, Ph.D. - A professor at MIT, psychologist Dr. Sherry Turkle has spent the last 30 years studying human relationships with digital technology, from early computers to intelligent robots. She has written op-eds for the New York Times such as “There Will Never Be an Age of Artificial Intimacy,” and is the author of six books, including more recently the New York Times bestseller Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (2016), and Alone Together (2011).

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (2016)

• Here, Dr. Turkle investigates some of the negative consequences of digital culture: forsaking human interaction for texting and emailing - an alternative means of communication that keeps us “safe” from personal scrutiny, or revealing too much about ourselves. She argues that technology can be a very productive force, but that it cannot replace the benefits of conversation, a cornerstone for democracy, business, empathy, love, and learning.

Alone Together (2011)

• This work examines the idea that social media technology traps us in the illusion of real companionship, facilitating conflation between “tweets” and Facebook wall posts and genuine person-to-person communication. Dr. Turkle argues here that there is an inverse correlation between technology use and our emotional lives. Drawing from hundreds of interviews with families, friends, and lovers, she describes the impact of these technologies on close interpersonal relationships.