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Book Review of Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.
As a mother and a teacher I have seen many children who seem very dependent on technology. It’s interesting because when I get them in school they don’t know how to format a spreadsheet or put together a Google Slide presentation, but they can find memes and gifs and games no problem. I have witnessed with my own self and my children how reliant we can be on technology to cope with boredom and to numb out the feelings. When I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. The information in this book shocked and terrified me. It’s so important. What book am I discussing today? Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.
“We’ve all seen them: kids hypnotically staring at glowing screens in restaurants, in playgrounds and in friends’ houses―and the numbers are growing. Like a virtual scourge, the illuminated glowing faces―the Glow Kids―are multiplying. But at what cost? Is this just a harmless indulgence or fad like some sort of digital hula-hoop? Some say that glowing screens might even be good for kids―a form of interactive educational tool.
Don’t believe it.
In Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras will examine how technology―more specifically, age-inappropriate screen tech, with all of its glowing ubiquity―has profoundly affected the brains of an entire generation. Brain imaging research is showing that stimulating glowing screens are as dopaminergic (dopamine activating) to the brain’s pleasure center as sex. And a growing mountain of clinical research correlates screen tech with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that cocaine addiction can.
Kardaras will dive into the sociological, psychological, cultural, and economic factors involved in the global tech epidemic with one major goal: to explore the effect all of our wonderful shiny new technology is having on kids. Glow Kids also includes an opt-out letter and a “quiz” for parents in the back of the book.”
My Book Review:
To say that this book shocked me is definitely an understatement. I first heard about it from a man named Collin Kartchner. He came and spoke to my school district about the harmful effects of cell phones and social media to children. I now follow him on Facebook and Instagram, and he recommended this book. He said after he read the first chapter he and his family got rid of the smart phones. After hearing that, I knew I needed to read it.
My husband and I have always been quite strict with our kids and technology. We did get our older boys smart phones the summer before they entered high school. My two girls (9th and 7th) do not have smart phones. I collect the phones each night, and they are locked with an app blocker, so nothing can be accessed on the phone. They never have access to the internet on their phones. None of them have social media, and I also turn off the wi-fi at night. They may not have Snap Chat or Tik Tok. You see, we were quite strict to begin with. Then I read this book.
Oh boy! Wow. To say that I was shocked when I read this book would be an understatement. I knew screen addiction could be bad, but I had no idea how bad it could really be. Dr. Kardaras cites study after study that backs up his claims. Video game creators write addiction codes into their games so children become addicted, and the dopamine the children receive while playing these games mimics the dopamine rush from a drug addiction. Yeah, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This book is well written. It reads well, and isn’t too full of jargon or scientific language. Its message comes across loud and clear. There are some reviews that suggest Dr. Kardaras is fearmongering, and I disagree. Yes, some of the examples he uses are extreme, but to me it shows how bad the addiction can get if left untreated. Dr. Kardaras cites studies to back up his research, and also gives anecdotes to give the reader a clear picture of what glow kids are. I always take things with a grain of salt anyway; each person is different and will react to situations and stimuli differently.
After I read this book I added even more time restrictions to my children, and I am more strict about no phones during dinner, family time, parties, etc. At school I changed a lot of things. Prior to reading this book I had my students practice their multiplication facts on a computer program because I thought it would be more fun. After reading this book I went old school and made flashcards (my daughter and I cut out flashcards for hours). My students now practice multiplication with a partner using flashcards. I also stopped using the Chromebooks for frivolous activities. As a teacher I understand that I still need to teach the students to use computers (spreadsheets, word docs, presentations, etc), but I no longer use them for things that can be done without tech.
Well, I did. Then the COVID-19 pandemic ruined all my plans about three weeks after I changed everything up. And we went to using nothing but technology. Ugh. Well, I tried. Going forward, I have no idea what will happen, but I plan to limit tech as much as possible.
If you have children or work with children in any way, you need to read this book. I see toddlers staring at phones now in grocery stores and I want to scream, “NOOOOO!!!” I don’t of course, but I want to. I like that this book has solutions in it, and they are practicable and doable. Here is an example:
A refocusing in education, at home and school, on the essentials of a healthy childhood: strong bonds with caring adults; time for spontaneous, creative lay; a curriculum rich in music and the other arts; reading books aloud; storytelling and poetry; rhythm and movement; cooking, building things, and other handcrafts; and gardening and other hands-on experiences of nature and the physical world. (pg 244)
Here are some of the quotes that stood out the most to me:
What’s more, an ever-increasing amount of clinical research correlates screen tech with psychiatric disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression and even psychosis. (pgs 3-4)
…video games for the alienated kid and social media for the cheerleader are both just as addicting as heroin is to a junkie. With every burst of virtual gunfire, every text and tweet, there is a release—a little squirt—of dopamine, just as surely as cocaine tickles our dopamine neurotransmitters. (pg 14)
Dr. Dunckley came to believe that the unnaturally stimulating nature of an electronic screen, regardless of its content, wreaks havoc on the still-developing nervous system and mental health of a child on a variety of levels—cognitive, behavioral and emotional. (pgs 115-116)
Content Rating: PG-13+ (This book does not have any profanity, but it does discuss some violent/graphic situations, and does talk about “intimacy.”)
My Rating: 4/5
If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2O5sRCn