Author: Ryan Anderson
Ryan Anderson uses incredible wit, knowledge, and experience to help us examine and evaluate how we interact with technology. The “cyber world,” as Ryan calls it, beckons to us and our children, on so many fronts. He draws from his extensive background working with troubled teenagers and compliments that with extensive research to clearly, and cleverly, evaluate and help us improve our dynamic relationship with technology. He explores every venue, even those I hadn’t thought of or heard about, discussing potential benefits, pitfalls, and ways we can examine and learn from our own interaction with the cyber world.
Parts I Liked Best:
One would initially think that a book about technology could be rather dry. This book begs to differ. I found myself nodding and chuckling at the clever humor and sound points made throughout the book. There are some fantastic analogies that I think I can easily use with my children, such as comparing the online world with a country we want to visit. How do we spend our time there? Do we rush in headfirst and sight see, or do we plan what we want to do based on context, interaction, and the time we have?
Do we go with the philosophy that, “When in Rome, do as the Romans,” or are we thinking critically for ourselves about what information we present and share with people we don’t know? Ryan also poses self-examination questions throughout the book that, when honestly answered, can have us rethinking the way in which we interact with technology. Without diminishing the potential benefits technology offers, he encourages us to prioritize and analyze how we spend our time. He says, “by filling our time with what comes easiest (and the stimulation of smartphones seems to be one of the easiest things to fill our time with), we run the risk of stuffing our time so fully with trivia and frivolity that we settle for pursuits that really don’t mean that much to us and don’t spend time nurturing the things in our lives that have greater meaning and value to us. We run the risk of trading our most effective parenting moments for the beating one more level on Candy Crush Saga or exchanging an emotionally meaningful moment with a friend to check a text.”
How This Book Made an Impact in My Life, Especially as a Mother:
I aspire to be a deliberate mother and this book really got me thinking about how I want my kids to understand and view their use of technology and their interaction with the cyber world. I want them to notice how it affects them, how the context of the media is influencing their thoughts and behavior, some even buy Instagram likes to appear more popular, and how it impacts their well-being.
It similarly got me to really evaluate how I use my time with technology. I found the self-examination questions to be very insightful and helpful as I contemplated my priorities. As a mother, I need to ensure that I am present with my children. Ryan stated it so well when he said, “Parents who are concerned about their children’s school success and happiness should fuss less about the amount of sugar in the cereal, or whether the school provides enough challenge for their very bright child, and instead make sure that while they are hanging around conducting everyday life, their cell phone is turned off and put away and they are available for the casual conversations that are the best school readiness program there is.”
His concluding remarks really resonated with me: “I am a big fan of the cyberscape. I think the world is a better place because it exists, and I think it has the potential to enrich our lives in a multitude of ways. I truly believe we can all benefit from it. However, I am also greatly concerned about what happens when the digital realm becomes our lives. I believe the cyberscape has a place in our lives if we will keep it in its place. However, if we allow the cyberscape to overflow the bounds of its place in our lives—as is happening for many of us—then we face the very real danger of having nothing in our lives hold the place it actually deserves, especially those people and things which matter most. That is why the question of the healthiness of our relationship with the cyberscape matters. ”
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