iKids now Available on Kindle

Cover amazonAfter two years of research, writing, editing, rewriting, and rewriting again, iKids: Parenting in the Digital Age is now available for Kindle at a special promotional price of .99 cents.

iKids Kindle Version

The focus of iKids is how digital media, especially the advent of smartphones and tablets, is affecting the lives of children and young teens born since 2000.  A quote from the book best sums up the importance of this topic:

“The one discovery that most resonated with me was this: We are in the midst of a great experiment. No one knows how the use of techgear and digital media is affecting the mental and social development of iKids. Whether it’s Toys’R’Us selling a line of tablets for four-year-olds or school systems giving children iPads so they can take the Common Core test online or parents giving eight-year-olds smartphones so they can keep track of them when they go to school, the iKids are immersed in a screened-in environment that beckons them at every turn.  The only thing we know for sure is that as our society purchases techgear in record numbers and puts it in the hands of our youngest generation, we are faced with a slew of questions that won’t be answered until iKids are in their twenties and thirties.”    iKids, p. 13.

In iKids I invite you to join me in wrestling with the issues of how we raise this newest generation, one that is pushed and pulled by the forces of technological change.  We will look at how companies like Disney and Apple look for ways to capture iKids to keep them as life long customers.  We will talk about privacy and the importance of one’s identity.  We will discover how gaming is the metaphor for the spiritual life that connects with this generation and we will be challenged to look at how our own use of digital media shapes the lives of our children.

The book itself tells a story of how digital technology is changing the way we interact with media.  The kindle version of iKids includes links to not only the chapters but also to a series of articles that are embedded in the book.  Topics like “So your iKid wants a Phone”, “Who Owns Our Pop Culture?”, and “When Faith Communities Adopt Schools” are just a click away.  Also, URLs to various sites are active as well as hyperlinks to the over 200 footnotes in the book.

I invite you to take a look at iKids: Parenting in the Digital Age and join me in this critical conversation about the future of the iKids Generation.

Craig Kennet Miller

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“Miller’s unique navigation through the digital waters surrounding pre-teens and
teenagers today is brilliant. As a pastor of a growing congregation and the father
of two young children, this resource is essential. I highly recommend adding it to
your collection.”
—Olu Brown, pastor of Impact Church in Atlanta, Georgia and author of Zero to 80

“An enlightening look into the world of the newest, techiest generation, iKids is
chock-full of useful tidbits to help parents prevent children from overloading on
too many screens and too much technology. [This book is] an excellent guide for
Christian parents who want to raise their children with the right values.”
—Jean M. Twenge, author of Generation Me and coauthor of The Narcissism Epidemic

“Every parent in America needs a copy of this book. If I were a pastor or staff
member of a church, I would make sure every parent and grandparent had this
book, and I would organize teaching and small-group discussions around it. There
is something to learn on every page—from information to perspective to practical
tips.”
—Reggie McNeal, author of Get Off Your Donkey: Help Somebody and Help Yourself

“This book is an amazing representation of the children who are entering into
middle school. Miller provides a vocabulary to understand these children and
their experiences, and he provides teachers, parents, pastors, Christian educators
and other leaders in the church ways to give guidance for a deeper spiritual walk
with God.”
—Leigh Meekins, Christian educator and ordained deacon, The United Methodist Church

“I read iKids through the eyes of a grandparent. I am giving a copy to each of my
children to help them practice proactive parenting in an age of techgear and digital
media, and better understand their influence on the mental and social development
of our grandchildren.”
—Mike Slaughter, Senior Pastor of Ginghamsburg Church

The Death of Golf

Colin Cowheard is one of my favorite sports commentators.  Today on his ESPN radio show he pronounced the death of golf. Citing the news that Dick’s Sporting Goods just fired 500 golf pros and a report that 400,000 people quit the sport in the last 12 months, he made the observation that the digitally obsessed young people in their early thirties and twenties don’t have the patience or the time to watch or play golf. Golf is leisurely. There is no time limit. It’s expensive to play. And it’s in the decline.

Another sport on the proverbial hot seat is baseball. Baseball games are long, sometimes three to four hours in length. The action is slow as you wait for the batter to get settled in at the plate or for the pitcher to begin his windup. The average age of a baseball fan is 53 and that is sure to increase in the coming years.

While interest in golf and baseball is on the wane, soccer is on the rise. This year’s world cup final between Argentina and Germany drew a record high American T.V. rating of over 26 million viewers. This for two teams who were not Team U.S.A. In contrast, the last baseball world series between the iconic Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals only drew a rating of 15.

Why is interest in soccer growing? To start off with, there are no commercials during the game. It is finished in a reasonable amount of time, approximately two hours. And a goal can be scored at any time. There is also a demographic component as many more children and youth play soccer then baseball. In addition, the Latino/Hispanic population is larger among the young and soccer is a sport that has been admired by their families for generations.   Even more telling, the average age of a soccer fan is 37.

Of course the implications of this goes beyond the realm of sports. The youngest among us is a restless bunch, looking for activities and services that don’t waste time, that respond quickly to their interests, and connects to them via their smartphones and tablets. Whether it’s a church, a school, a restaurant, or store your future depends on your desire and ability to respond to the digital mindset of today’s young.   To ignore it or to hope it will go away is to fail to understand the waves of change generated by the digital age are deep and wide.

 

Are we on the eve of distraction?

By Craig Kennet Miller

Christopher Minms in the Wall Street Journal makes some powerful observations about what he calls “The Distraction-Industrial Complex.”  As our smartphones and apps get smarter their ability to keep us in a constant state of distraction is increasing.  With the coming of new gadgets like the iWatch and Google Glasses, constant notification alters will only become more appealing and intrusive.

I noticed this myself on my latest flight from LA to Nashville.  There was a time when fellow flyers would be cocooned with the latest novel as they clutched their paperback books in their hands.  Now everyone seems to be linked up to a tablet or smartphone with their ears tethered to earbuds or headphones.   Gone are the days when a child would sit quietly with a book to read or color in a coloring book.  Instead, each child is glued to their techgear, stabbing at the screen with their tiny fingers as they interact with their favorite game.

While the confinement of a plane makes every anxious parent look for a way to keep their child quiet, one suspects that home life is not much different.  Major corporations from Comcast or Time-Warner who provide you with WiFi to Amazon and Microsoft who provide you with movies or games, all have in their best interest families that are connected 24/7 to their services.

The creators of Google, Facebook, and Twitter are eager to keep you and your family connected to them at all times.  Whether at home or on the go, their business model is built on keeping you busy.

For Mims this is not a good thing.  He says research points to the fact that the distractions generated by our devices keeps us from being productive, causes us to lose our ability to think, and to focus on one thing for long periods of time. “In a world full of interruptions, we can’t win.”  If we decide to turn off our techgear we become afraid we are going to miss out on something important.  If we keep them on, we are on constant alert — never giving our brains a rest.

His solution is a radical one – turn the Internet off.  Or create a space where you can’t get it.

As we think of iKids and their development, his idea is worth considering.  If not turning it off completely, at least turning it off at set time of the week.  Maybe on Friday evenings or Sunday mornings or after 8:00 pm.   While adults need down time, it is even more essential for children and teens to have open space to think, to create, to learn, and to talk to someone real – like you.