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Growing Up in Public summary

Devorah Heitner

Coming of Age in a Digital World

4 (82 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Growing Up in Public by Devorah Heitner is a thought-provoking book that examines how technology influences the lives of young people today, providing valuable insights and practical advice for parents navigating the digital age.

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    Growing Up in Public
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    Tracking your children’s digital activities can backfire – and what to do instead

    Have you ever experienced the invasion of privacy when someone reads your private journal or overhears a phone conversation meant to be confidential? Remember how it felt – the violation and the misunderstandings that ensued due to a lack of context?

    In today's digital age, parents have unprecedented opportunities to monitor their children's online activities. However, instead of focusing on surveillance, it’s more beneficial for parents to mentor their children in developing strong character and sound judgment. Surveillance, particularly when covert, can foster secrecy and rebellion, eroding the trust between parent and child. True decision-making skills develop not under constant oversight but through practicing independence with supportive guidance.

    Research indicates that many parents extensively track their children's digital footprints in an attempt to protect them. This over-surveillance hinders the development of autonomy and self-reliance in youth, making them dependent on external controls rather than their own judgment.

    While tracking tools might offer parents a false sense of security, they can actually impede healthy development. Relying on monitoring apps often sidesteps the need for open discussions about values, expectations, and dealing with challenges. Children benefit more from gradually independent experiences than from a guardian who constantly resolves their problems for them.

    Children have always sought out private spaces to explore their identities, separate from their parents. For previous generations, this could have been a secluded spot in the woods or a seldom-visited room in the house. The internet now serves as a new frontier for this exploration. Wise parents understand that both physical and virtual exploration are natural parts of growth. Concerns about adolescents' private activities should be balanced with considerations such as age, the quality of the parent-child relationship, the nature of their friendships, and mental health.

    Covert tracking and spying can often harm parent-child relationships unnecessarily. Trust is best nurtured when monitoring is aimed at mentoring rather than policing. Openness about limited tracking in specific situations, like past instances of bullying, can foster stronger connections. Conversely, secret surveillance can lead to conflict.

    For example, it's developmentally normal for children to vent about their parents, but this can be misconstrued as disturbing or hostile if parents inadvertently witness these expressions. Misinterpreting children’s temporary emotional outbursts as permanent attitudes can harm the bond between parent and child. It's crucial for parents to understand that their children’s private thoughts and communications aren’t intended for adult scrutiny.

    So, what is the best approach for parents monitoring their children’s digital communications? The healthiest method involves clear communication and gradually reducing tracking to support growing independence rather than encouraging dependence. As children demonstrate responsible behavior, monitoring should lessen to respect their maturing judgment while maintaining open communication. Supporting the development of ethical, capable digital citizens requires guidance, not control.

    In certain cases, like mental health crises, more direct monitoring may be necessary. However, even in these scenarios, it’s best to engage in transparent communication about the extent of monitoring. After all, compassionate communication and resilience are more effective than surveillance in raising children. Wise parents prioritize mentoring over monitoring, fostering empathy and respect to help their children navigate the challenges of growing up in a digitally public world.

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    What is Growing Up in Public about?

    Growing Up in Public (2023) explores the many stresses both parents and children can experience in today’s digital world. Although raising children in the face of today’s many technological social outlets might seem overwhelming, this guide provides clear, actionable insight for guiding adolescent online behavior as well as monitoring our own adult actions.  

    Growing Up in Public Review

    Growing Up in Public (2018) by Devorah Heitner is a fascinating exploration of the challenges and opportunities modern children face in the age of technology. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • It offers insightful perspectives on how social media, gaming, and screen time impact children's development, helping parents navigate these complex issues with confidence.
    • The book provides practical strategies for fostering healthy online habits and building strong relationships with technology, ensuring that children grow up to be responsible digital citizens.
    • With compelling real-life stories and thought-provoking ideas, this book effortlessly pulls readers into its narrative, making it an engaging and educational read.

    Who should read Growing Up in Public?

    • Parents or guardians concerned about their children’s social media usage
    • People looking for advice on raising children in today’s digital world
    • Anyone interested in the internet’s impact on adolescent development

    About the Author

    Devorah Heitner, Ph.D., is a renowned public speaker and author specializing in the intersection of media, technology, and society. Her expertise is particularly focused on guiding parents and children to engage thoughtfully and responsibly with digital media. She is also known for her book Screenwise, which explores similar themes.

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    Growing Up in Public FAQs 

    What is the main message of Growing Up in Public?

    Growing Up in Public explores how young people navigate the digital world and offers guidance for parents and educators.

    How long does it take to read Growing Up in Public?

    The reading time for Growing Up in Public varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Growing Up in Public a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Growing Up in Public is a valuable book that enlightens us about the challenges of digital age. It provides insights and practical tips for raising digitally savvy children.

    Who is the author of Growing Up in Public?

    The author of Growing Up in Public is Devorah Heitner.