The content in this book quaked my soul both the first and second time I read it. Although it was published a few years back, the content is 100% spot on, right now. Today.
When I first read The Learning Habit over five years ago, it scared me, so I tucked it away. Hmmm. But, as my concerns about digital communication and its impact on our ability to think deeply and to focus have continued to grow, I pulled this book back out and sat and read. Again.
The Learning Habit is a book reporting on the results of the largest study on the digital lives and routines of American children and their families of its kind. It examines how children spend their time online and it looks for connections to performance in school and levels of social anxiety in children. It should scare any conscious parent.
This quote from a very successful game developer will cue you in on one of the central themes of this book: The goal of developers is to make the most complex, most captivating, most addictive games they can. I don’t let my children play video games for precisely that reason. I don’t want my kids spending time gaming, when they could be playing a sport or reading a book.”
Among many other disturbing facts, The Learning Habit Study, which is filled with multiple charts (I love charts!) and with great research, found that children who game more than 90 minutes a day are twice as likely to have social problems. The book demonstrates how social media can achieve many things but that increasing true socialization among kids and teens is NOT one of them. It demonstrates how kids are increasingly able to waste up to 10 hours per day online using iPhones and computers and internet-enabled tablets, doing very little productive work, but are not able to sit still and read a book for 10 minutes. There is a connection. This book details that connection.
This book’s greatest strength is that it delineates the difference between media creation and media consumption. I found this understanding a powerful tool over the years.
If your children are young, please read this book. It is probably a book more geared toward parents of young children/elementary school-aged children. It is filled with great advice for parents; it does not merely excoriate electronic entertainment. It contains step-by-step guidelines for how to set limits, how to make sure the time your child spends online is productive, and how to partner with them in their lives online, before it is too late. It is filled with case studies, time management techniques, focus checklists, and helpful homework approaches.
Read it. This is a book that truly matters.