by Susan Linn
From a world-renowned expert on creative play and the impact of commercial marketing on children, a timely investigation into how big tech is hijacking childhood -- and what we can do about it
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies had become deeply embedded in children's lives, despite a growing body of research detailing the harms of excessive immersion in the unregulated, powerfully seductive, profit-driven world of the "kid-tech" industry.
In Who's Raising the Kids? Linn -- one of the world's leading experts on the impact of Big Tech and big business on children -- explores the roots and consequences of this monumental shift toward a digitized, commercialized childhood, focusing on kids' values, relationships, and learning. From birth, kids have become lucrative fodder for a range of tech, media, and toy companies, from producers of exploitative games and social media platforms to "educational" technology and branded school curricula of dubious efficacy.
Noting that many Silicon Valley elites wouldn't dream of exposing their young kids to the very technologies they've unleashed on other people's children, Who's Raising the Kids? is unique -- a highly readable social critique and guide to protecting kids from exploitation by the tech, toy, and entertainment industries. Linn provides a deep and eye-opening dive into exactly how new technologies enable huge conglomerates to transform young children into lifelong consumers by infiltrating their lives and influencing their values, relationships and learning. She persuasively argues that our digitized-commercialized culture is damaging for kids and families as well as society at large, and maps out what we must do to change course.
Written with humor and compassion, the book concludes with two hopeful chapters -- "Resistance Parenting" and "Making a Difference for Everybody's Kids" -- that chart a path for protecting kids from targeting by the tech, toy, and entertainment industries that treat them as lucrative bundles of data and as mini-consumers ripe for exploitation rather than as the children they need to be.
"A guide on changing course both individually and as a society, by an experienced activist; a must-read." -- Library Journal
"A stunning examination of how marketing, technology, and consumer capitalism impact the well-being of children... This is a must-read for parents and educators." -- Publishers Weekly
"Susan Linn is every parent's hero. Her work calls out the manipulative marketing tactics that Big Tech and big business direct toward our children, strategies designed to exploit their vulnerabilities and ours as parents. Who's Raising the Kids? explores the pervasive and often covert commercialism in digital child culture and the negative influences corporate profiteers have on our children's values, learning, emotional health, and relationships. This is an eye-opening, at times unnerving read and a hopeful call to action with practical advice for weakening the forces of consumerist culture in our families and how we can advocate for a freer childhood for our kids." -- Janet Lansbury, bestselling author of No Bad Kids and Elevating Child Care
About the Author:
Susan Linn is a psychologist, award-winning ventriloquist, and a world-renowned expert on creative play and the impact of media and commercial marketing on children. She was the Founding Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (now called Fairplay) and is currently research associate at Boston Children's Hospital and lecturer on psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The author of Consuming Kids, The Case for Make Believe, and Who's Raising the Kids? (all published by The New Press), she lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.