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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

The tech giants of silicon valley design their products to hook even the most sophisticated adults. Imagine then, the influence these devices have on the developing minds of young people. Touted as tools of the future that kids must master to ensure a job in the new economy, they are in reality the culprits, stealing our children’s attention, making them anxious, agitated, and depressed.

What’s worse, schools across the country are going digital under the assumption that a tablet with a wi-fi connection is what’s lacking in our education system. Add to that the legion of dangers invited by unregulated access to the internet, and it becomes clear that our screen-saturated culture is eroding some of the most important aspects of childhood.

In Be the Parent, Please, former New York Post and Wall Street Journal writer Naomi Schaefer Riley draws from her experience as a mother of three and delves into the latest research on the harmful effects that excessive technology usage has on a child’s intellectual, social, and moral formation. Throughout each chapter, she backs up her discussion with “tough mommy tips”—realistic advice for parents who want to take back control from tech. 

With the alluring array of gadgets, apps, and utopian promises expanding by the day, engulfing more and more of our lives, Be the Parent, Please is both a wakeup call and an indispensable guide for parents who care about the healthy development of their children.

Introduction: Screen Time / 3
Chapter 1: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us / 7
Chapter 2: Babies Aren’t Meant to Be Einsteins / 35
Chapter 3: Are You Preparing Your Child for School or Las Vegas? / 53
Chapter 4: Drop the Call—and the Phone While You Are at It / 71
Chapter 5: The Price of Internet Access is Eternal Vigilance / 93
Chapter 6: Think American Education Can’t Get Worse? Put iPads in the Classroom / 123
Chapter 7: Just Say No / 155
Chapter 8: Less Technology, More Independence / 175
Conclusion / 203
Postscript: The Tech-lash / 225
Notes / 231
Index / 247

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