Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Reviewing “The New Childhood” by Jordan Shapiro

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                                                                                


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One comment

  1. KathyK

    Sandbox play is limited by a child’s imagination. Digital play is limited and defined by the software. This difference is enormously important to child development. Calling digital games sandboxes is a marketing ploy.
    I see that the author of the book serves corporate interests who finance the Brookings and Cooney Center “think tanks”. He is not an unbiased voice.
    If anyone wants to be “looked to as authorities” on this topic, then being trustworthy is the first step. And the first step to being trustworthy is admitting what you do not know. And we do not know that any of the claims Shapiro appears to making are true.
    Making predictions about what kids will need in the future is a big problem for Shapiro’s credibility and others making similar prediction about the future. There is a saying, “Those who know do not predict. Those who predict do not know.”

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