We live in a digital age. Is it possible to protect kids from excessively or obsessively accessing digital media, watching on their phones, and “engaging” on social media?
Seattle’s Emily Cherkin, aka The Screentime Consultant, says the answer is yes. She has a lot of thoughts and ideas on the topic, many of which are laid out in her new 232-page book “The Screentime Solution: A Judgment-Free Guide to Becoming a Tech-Intentional Family.” The new book, published by Greenleaf Book Group Press, arrives on bookshelves this week.
Cherkin, a former classroom teacher turned screentime educator, says many parents have told her they are concerned about how much time kids spend looking at and engaging with screens, the internet, and social media but don’t know what to do about it. In her new book, she uses humor and her experience as a teacher and parent to encourage parents to become “tech-intentional.” That means making – and helping kids make – tech-use decisions that enhance, nurture, and align with family values. It also means avoiding, delaying, or limiting screentime that interferes with healthy mental, physical, cognitive, and emotional development.
The book is already winning accolades from leaders in the responsible technology use arena.
Advance praise for the book
“The Screentime Solution is truly empowering for parents who want to recalibrate so that social media and screens have a healthy place in their children’s lives, rather than controlling them,” wrote David Monahan, campaign director of Fairplay, a national nonprofit committed to helping children thrive in an increasingly commercialized, screen-obsessed culture. “Cherkin tells you that you’re not alone—millions are trying to free themselves from the manipulation of Big Tech. Read this book, and you’ll be confident that your family can create healthier relationships with technology, and you’ll have a blueprint for how to do it.”
”Emily brings academic rigor and empathy to a subject that no parent can avoid. She sees through Big Tech to uncover its manipulative marketing tactics and show parents and kids how they are being ‘played’ and preyed upon—for obscene profits. Emily empowers us all to fight back.”
We asked Cherkin about her new book. Here’s what she had to say:
Seattle’s Child: Why this book and why now? What is the difference you want it to make?
Emily Cherykin: Remote learning, lockdowns, and increased social media use have all directly impacted what it means to be a parent in today’s world. My mission is to build a movement around becoming tech-intentional. I wrote this book thinking about its longevity — technology changes rapidly, so I couldn’t focus on that aspect. But parenting will always be something we’re striving to learn more about and improve on — so I wrote it with that in mind.
SC: What new idea, approach, or perspective does the book bring to parents’ digital information lexicon?
Emily Cherykin: Being tech-intentional isn’t just a way of life; it’s a movement. Shaming and blaming parents to “say no” or “take the phone away” doesn’t work, and often has the opposite effect. Being a human in the digital age is really, really challenging — adults struggle to balance their use of screens for entertainment with those for work, and we’re often not great role models for our kids. But the good news and emerging research shows that my approach works: 1. Less is more. 2. Later is better. 3. Relationships first.
SC: What are your hopes for the book?
Emily Cherkin: I hope to help parents move away from guilt and shame to action and intention, to push back on the tech industry itself and ask, “How does this improve the lives of families and children?” I hope to get people thinking about their individual phone use — whether they are parents or not.
SC: So the book is not just for parents?
Emily Cherkin: While parents are the primary audience, many tips and strategies in the book would apply to anyone looking for a healthier relationship with their screens. I got one advanced review on NetGalley where the reviewer wrote, “I would encourage everyone to read this book no matter if you have little kids or older kids. It’s a bit of a kick in the behind about your own personal screentime use as well, however, I never once felt judged or shamed for what I’ve been doing.” That was hugely validating. I’ve also had several teachers and therapists write to me about the value of my message in their professional roles as well, and that’s great to hear.
SC: Did you involve your family in the project?
Emily Cherkin: Oh yes! They are referenced several times in the book — I believe that we learn best through stories, so I have included a lot of personal examples about my own family and screentime. My 12-year-old daughter and I currently share my phone — it’s been a fascinating process, and it didn’t even make it in the book because we just started. I know my kids, in particular, don’t always like that we talk so much about screens in our family, but as I always tell them, “If I were a dentist, you’d probably eat less sugar.”
And even though my kids resist and rebel (like tweens and teens do), I see and hear them say things to us and to their friends that make me know they are listening to us, even if they don’t always agree. Did I mention my husband works in the tech industry? I joke that I am married to the problem!
Find the book
“The Screentime Solution: A Judgment-Free Guide to Becoming a Tech-Intentional Family” is available at most bookstores and on Amazon.com for $9.99 (Kindle) or $26.95 (Hardcover).