In his new book, The New Childhood, Jordan Shapiro explores the changing digital world that children are growing up in and how parents can prepare them to navigate this world. Shapiro does not shy away from the fact that many parents are intimidated and wary about letting their children interact with the digital world to too great an extent, but at the same time he advocates that it is the role of parents to make sure their children have the tools to thrive in the world that they will be entering into as adults.
One of the more striking points that Shapiro makes is in his comparison of sandbox play and digital play. Examining the field of childhood development, Shapiro demonstrates all of the ways in which digital play can fulfill the same roles as sandbox play while also preparing children for a world that is going to constantly demand them to be switching between multiple digital platforms and means of communication. It is this gap between their own childhood play and that of their children that causes parents the most amount of anxiety and stress. The tools that their children play with are superficially different than those that they played with and parents are not always certain how to teach their children the best way to interact with these new tools of play.
I highly recommend this book to not only parents, but also to librarians and caregivers who find themselves looked to as authorities by parents. Children’s librarians, especially, are in a unique position to benefit from Shapiro’s insights since we are often called on to fill the role of a media mentor for the families that we serve. Shapiro’s book gives concrete ways to articulate to parents the benefits and reasons why they must be the ones to set the examples for both interacting with digital devices and how to behave on digital platforms for their children.
Kalyn Shields Children’s Librarian Enoch Pratt Free Library https://www.prattlibrary.org/
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