#EmptyShelf20: May

#EmptyShelf20: May

Last month I read:

The Admiral's DaughterThe Admiral’s Daughter by Margaret Stuart Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has sat on my shelves from younger days, and all I could remember about it was that the main character is drugged to sleep for 24 hours and wakes up in a stress that she’s run out of time for an urgent task, but it’s become clear that the time has cleared her head and she gets the task done faster. Set in a time when London is rebuilding after the great fire the story develops at a decent pace and feels historically ‘set’.

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated CultureGeneration X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book on the shelves for ages – knowing it’s something of a modern classic. I don’t know if I’m just too jet lagged to take in the nuance but I found it a rather disjointed and strange book … my favourite bit often was the definitions randomly posted at the bottom of each page.

The Amber FuryThe Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did get drawn into the storyline, so a readable book, but I got a bit lost with all the Greek plays the storyline hinges on. I found the main character working with kids in a special school the most interesting part – and the mystery element was well woven in – but found it a bit of a slog.

Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child's Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital DevicesScreen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices by Jodi Gold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m wavering between a 4-5 star for this book, as I think it’s well researched, and brings together the professional and parental aspects well (and I don’t expect perfection). I found a lot of material that I agree with (based on other research reading), and a lot of strong suggestions for underlying problems, good rationale for how to deal. There were occasions where seemed to contradict some bits of advice (e.g. focus on screen content not time, but still manage time) – although to be fair – I find myself doing this sometimes too! A lot of solid material that’s not overfocused on the platforms, so remains relevant for a long time.

Left to Their Own Devices?: Confident Parenting in a World of ScreensLeft to Their Own Devices?: Confident Parenting in a World of Screens by Katharine Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have talked to Katharine in the past about the kind of material that’s in our books, and was sent this copy to read (just before I was diagnosed with cancer, so just catching up with it now). Katharine has years of experience helping families make the most of life, and has applied this to thinking about digital – and I think we agree on a lot – although I think I have way more questions about screentime. It’s an easily readable book, not particularly long, but it packs a lot of content in – and deals with many of the questions that parents care about.

Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics GapDisconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap by Carrie James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another powerful book – based upon large research project in the US, drawing upon young people’s insights into how/why they behave as they do online – what seems normal. Questions the way that young people are encouraged to behave by adults – usually risk-avoidance, and personal protection, rather than thinking about how might affect friends, and even less so how might affect the integrity of the community involved in, or the wider community that you don’t know. Lots of interesting qualitative data – despite coming from a perspective that describes itself as ‘glass half empty’, being aware of the problems means that we can make better choices. Having strong values and ethics as part of everyday conversations leads to better behaviour online, which leads to a better online environment for all.

Digital Kids: How to Balance Screen Time, and Why it MattersDigital Kids: How to Balance Screen Time, and Why it Matters by Martin L. Kutscher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was well structured – and offered some interesting insights re voluntary and involuntary attention. It draws quite extensively from Carr and Greenfield – although then produces some quite sensible advice in amongst the dangers of screentime.

Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth Behind Media's Effect on Children and What to Do About ItParenting for the Digital Age: The Truth Behind Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It by Bill Ratner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a few insights into ‘a well known voice’ and some insights into the advertising industry, there’s some interesting material in here, but I didn’t find it a particularly useful source for insights into what parents should do with regards to digital literacy for children. The basic advice to focus on communication and not on banning is sound, but there wasn’t a huge amount of content – the interviews at the end were interesting, but could have been woven into the text in a more interesting way.

Closer Together, Further Apart: The Effect of Technology and the Internet on Parenting, Work, and RelationshipsCloser Together, Further Apart: The Effect of Technology and the Internet on Parenting, Work, and Relationships by Robert Weiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I struggled a bit in the sense that this book hung many of its arguments on the digital native/immigrant argument – but thought that it gave many really helpful insights – and from that there was a sense that many of those who think ‘how they do it’ is the best way and can’t understand a new way of doing things… and that few of those ‘panicking’ are listening to younger people’s actual experience online and how meaningful it is. The project actually started in looking at how relationships are/have been changed by technology – so there’s some deeper insights on that, but also other useful guidance. A bit dated…

Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired LivesDot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives by Randi Zuckerberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very readable book, although more of an autobiography than a ‘tech support’ book. If you want to know more about the creation of Facebook, and stories about someone who was closely involved, lots to read. Some interesting thoughts about the positives (and management) of social media.

Twopence to Cross the MerseyTwopence to Cross the Mersey by Helen Forrester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I plan to binge read all 4 of these books – somewhat disturbing to read as we head into another depression, but the struggling life that Helen ‘exists’ in Liverpool jumps off the page and you are drawn into the story.

By the Waters of LiverpoolBy the Waters of Liverpool by Helen Forrester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As the previous two books, a very engaging read – As Helen’s life continues to be hard, but offers flickers of improvement… but more sadness as World War 2 progresses.

Lime Street at TwoLime Street at Two by Helen Forrester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well there you are – I said I was going to binge read this 4 part autobiography. Lots to think about – and the tales of wondering when the war would ever end, and the disinfecting of everything as the highly contagious diphtheria struck are a bit too like now within the pandemic! Excellently readable!

Liverpool MissLiverpool Miss by Helen Forrester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well Helen is one determined youngster, seizing every opportunity she can get and fighting tooth and nail to better herself and hold onto a life that might start to be worth living within the slum lands of Liverpool.

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of UsiGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M. Twenge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To be fair, I skim read this, but I was more impressed with it than I would have believed from the more journalistic extracts I have seen from Twenge’s work. I’m not saying that I agree with all of her findings/ways of thinking, and I often struggle with the notion of ‘generations’, but I guess as a historian, we do see the context tends to change the way that people think (even if there are variations within a generation). There was a lots interesting data collected from a wide range of studies, including extra interviews for the book.. I’m not sure I’d come to the same conclusions from all of the data she has shared, but there’s plenty to think about (and LOTS of graphs, which I mostly skipped!).

Toxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About ItToxic Childhood: How The Modern World Is Damaging Our Children And What We Can Do About It by Sue Palmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m sure I’ve already written a review for this! But anyway …. This is a much wider book than about technology – and nicely set out in chunks with summary lists and extra reading at the end of each chapter. Over commercialisation is seen as the main ‘toxic’ factor, although the digital is seen as part of this…. there are some useful questions asked, and plenty to chew over, though it’s still largely going with the ‘digital native’ line.

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital AgeThe Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another book that takes a more holistic view of the whole family, but sees the digital as the disrupter. Leads slightly more towards the more negative viewpoint (focus on digital natives/screentime), but there’s plenty of helpful information in there – structured around an age appropriate way of understanding what children can cope with, and what might be helpful/less helpful.

Passage Across the MerseyPassage Across the Mersey by Robert Forrester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having just read all of Helen Forrester’s autobiographies, this was an interesting read to get us up to date with what happened with Helen after the Second World War. Very readable, although I prefer his Mum’s style of writing!

Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital WorldScreenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World by Devorah Heitner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Started reading this before my cancer diagnosis, and finally picked it up and finished it! The book is very readable, and encourages a way of mentoring rather than monitoring. I agree with quite a lot of what is set out in this book (although it’s set in a USA setting), and found a few extra apps that I was interested in following up. There’s the occasional repetition, and if you already do this kind of looking after your child outside of the digital context, this may just give you some particular insights into the digital aspects and some questions to ask.

Sexting: Motives and Risk in Online Sexual Self-PresentationSexting: Motives and Risk in Online Sexual Self-Presentation by Michel Walrave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, I haven’t read the whole of this book, but picked out sections I wanted to read… particularly the literature review, so it’s quite a heavy academic piece to read, but lots of theoretical insights to support the notions of different parental styles and the impact this has upon teenage behaviour online, especially sexting. Overly controlling = incredibly problematic and tends to lead to reactive poor behaviour.

Digital Childhoods: Technologies and Children's Everyday LivesDigital Childhoods: Technologies and Children’s Everyday Lives by Susan Jill Danby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another book in which I’ve read sections of it, having skimmed the book to look for the most relevant material. Studies on the younger age group are very limited outside of parental guide books, so this study gives some good insights into managing access/monitoring 3-5 year olds use of tech within a family framework – and what is actually happening – with clear ideas of where the gaps are that future research could investigate.

Children's Online Behaviour and Safety: Policy and Rights ChallengesChildren’s Online Behaviour and Safety: Policy and Rights Challenges by Andy Phippen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It feels quite strange to be reading a book which supports (with new evidence) essentially what I’d written in my book, some of it that came from experience in running training sessions for adults – but getting to see the child’s perspective without talking to children (partly because of Sonia Livingstone’s work on this). A really interesting book which draws on quants and quals data to give insights into what child/teenagers life online is like – and how the current prohibitive strategies of schools/government is failing to prepare children for engaging with resilience in the ‘real world’ (which is composed of both online/offline, with a very blurred line).

Familiar Strangers, Juvenile Panic and the British Press: The Decline of Social TrustFamiliar Strangers, Juvenile Panic and the British Press: The Decline of Social Trust by James Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Again, only a section of the book read. Interesting content about how ‘moral panics’ are fed through the media, and particularly how there is a sense that things are MORE problematic at present than in parents/grandparents times. Core discourse re the threats that children seen to face (some old, some new): abduction, molestation, grooming, murder by strangers; abuse/murder by adults known to the child; traffic accidents caused by dangerous drivers/careless children; Violent assault or bullying by older children/teens; over-exposure to adult film/TV/gaming content; corrupting effects of consumerism/advertising.

The Internet Family: Technology in Couple and Family RelationshipsThe Internet Family: Technology in Couple and Family Relationships by Katherine M. Hertlein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There was some interesting information in here, and it drew across a wide range of academic studies on both digital and relationship insights – I’d probably say rather stronger on the relationship side than the digital awareness side (yes, digital natives came up), but overall another strong piece of work to add to the jigsaw about how digital affects our lives.

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