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Be the Parent, Please

Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat

Naomi Schaefer Riley

Strategies for Solving the Real Parenting Problems

Toddlers on tablets. Pre-teens on Tumblr. Thanks to a variety of factors—from tech companies hungry for new audiences, to school administrations bent on making education digital, to a culture that promotes everyone as the star of their own reality shows—technology is irrevocably a part of childhood, and parents are struggling to keep up. What should be allowed? What should be denied? And, given the ubiquity of technology and its inherent usefulness, what do sensible boundaries even look like?

A noted columnist and mother of three, Naomi Schaefer Riley fully understands the seductive nature of screens. For example, an after­noon of finger painting equals enormous cleanup of both house and hands. But an afternoon of iPad games? Just a swipe and a charger. Or what about car rides around town? Always having toys and books on hand isn’t a given, but your game-loaded smart phone is.

Riley draws us into her story and then walks us through the research on technology’s encroachment into each stage of childhood. She then offers “tough mommy tips”: realistic, practical, applicable advice for parents who recognize that unlimited technology access is a problem, but who don’t know where to start in taking back control. These tips cover everything from placating an antsy toddler at your local favorite restaurant to best practices for keeping your teens safe from unsavory sites.

Any parent knows the effects of screens on their distracted, cranky, sedentary, and incessantly anxious-about-what-might-be-going-on-without-them kids. Naomi Schaefer Riley brings her experience, research, and no-nonsense candor to help parents prevent the children from falling under the destructive spell of technology.

Chapter 1: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us
Chapter 2: Babies Aren’t Meant to Be Einsteins
Chapter 3: Are You Preparing Your Child for School or Las Vegas?
Chapter 4: Can You Hear Me Now? Don’t Give Your Child a Phone.
Chapter 5: The Price of Internet Access is Eternal Vigilance
Chapter 6: Think American Education Can’t Get Worse? Put iPads in the Classroom.
Chapter 7: Less Technology, More Independence

Be the Parent, Please is one of the most thought-provoking and jarring books I’ve read in a long time. When I finished the book, I literally thought to myself, ‘I wish I’d read this ten years ago!’ Engagingly written and filled with fascinating studies, this important book should be a conversation changer.”

Amy Chua, Yale Law professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package

“Most parents know the right things to do, but they often lack the courage to do them. Riley’s excellent new book, Be the Parent, Please provides the rationale, research, and encouragement that parents need—to resist the commercial culture that wants to profit from the free time of small children; to shield kids from the vast, unmonitored experiment that is the online life as lived by very young children; to be the parent, and not the enabling pal of their children. This is a book that every parent—and every person who cares about children and childhood—should read. 5 stars.”

Caitlin Flanagan, contributing editor to the Atlantic and author of Girl Land

“Just as it's hard to tell our kids, ‘No snack till dinner’—even when we have a purse full of Pirate's Booty—it's even harder to say, ‘No screen time’ when our smart phone is ringing in our pocket. In this well-researched, non-hectoring book, Riley helps us understand not just why we must ‘Be the Parent’ but actually how to do it.”

Lenore Skenazy, founder of Free-Range Kids

“We need more books like Be the Parent, Please! Riley gives parents a wakeup call to put healthy boundaries in place when it comes to technology and kids. A must-read for any parent fumbling around in this digital world of parenting.”

Brooke Shannon, founder of Wait Until 8th

The Cyberlibrarian Blog

"[A] timely book, and very much a necessary read for every parent who has kids on devices."

Miriam Downey

Book Pleasures

"Naomi Schaefer Riley makes a compelling argument in this book about excessive use of digital media for children. Can you as parents afford to look the other way? And if you do, at what peril?"

Michelle Kaye Malsbury

Little Earthling Blog

"[H]ands down, it is the best book on kids and social media that I have read to date. . . . Be the Parent takes a wider view, studying both boys and girls and the effect of media in general, not just social media. The book is packed full of research and facts on how kids are using media and how much they are consuming."

A Dose of Healthy Distraction Blog

"Naomi Shaefer Riley is a gifted writer. Her research skills are amazing, just check out the references in the back of her book! If you are struggling to make decisions about how much and what type of media to allow your children access, this book is for you."

Mom's Magical Miles Blog

"In Be The Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat: Strategies for Solving the Real Parenting Problems author Naomi Schaefer Riley offers scores of interview excerpts from people who are considered experts in fields such as education, parenting, technology and psychology. This isn’t a “Screens are bad. Technology is bad.” manifesto. I feel like Riley submits a balance of views from researchers. . . . What Be The Parent, Please does give you is motivation. It gives you so many reasons for taking back control of the screens. It gives you real-life situations from parents who struggle just like you do and why they are concerned. It gives you permission to BE THE PARENT."

Grandma Ideas Blog

"EVERY parent should read Be the Parent, Please by Naomi Schaefer Riley to learn how to conscientiously control how technology impacts family relations."

Nina Lewis

Maria's Space Blog

"This is a must read for all families. Come up with what works for your family and remember they will only be little for a short time. Spend as much time with them as you can UNPLUGGED so that when they are older and out of the house, they won't consider an electronic visit, a visit with you!" 

He Said Books or Me Blog

"This book was certainly full of information. It talked about the challenge of dealing with kids and the desire to pacify them (of sorts) with technology."

Ms. Career Girl Blog

“[P]rovides a thought-provoking and sometimes pointed look at  what’s absorbing, and being absorbed by, our kids.  I’m sure you’ll come away with a new perspective and resolve to change things for the better.”

Linda Allen

The Federalist

“If you’re a parent, you’re probably not going to enjoy reading Naomi Schaefer Riley’s new book Be The Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat: Strategies for Solving the Real Parenting Problems. But that’s precisely why you should. Riley’s book largely avoids parent shaming, but she does offer some real talk for parents about technology use—from babies to teens. She provides not just the jarring facts, but also suggestions on how to curb use and alleviate parent guilt about depriving our kids of technology, something we have been fooled into believing we need far more than we do.” 

Bethany Mandel

Washington Free Beacon

Be the Parent, Please is among the sternest of [the]recent books about the dangers of computerized childhood, and perhaps for exactly that reason, it's also the most compelling.”

Joseph Bottom

Pagosa Daily Post

Be the Parent, Please by Naomi Schaefer Riley offers strategies for families to take charge of technology’s control over their lives.”

Institute for Family Studies

"Riley strengthened my resolve to sharply limit the amount of time my kids spend on screens."

Anna Sutherland