Parenting in the twenty-first century is more difficult than in previous generations, or so it seems. There are a myriad of things that parents today must guard their children from in an almost never ending wave. This is seen most acutely in the area of technology. Technological advances are happening at breakneck speed, much faster than many parents are prepared to handle. (For a full theology of technology see our recent review of Tony Reinke’s God, Technology and the Christian Life). Yet parents must help their children navigate in a technological world. They must teach their children the biblical model for handling such gifts from the Lord. If we are not careful these can rule our lives in a way that only God is supposed to. This is what Betsy Childs Howard teaches in her new children’s book Polly and the Screen Time Overload (Crossway 2022).
Polly and the Screen Time Overload is a wonderful, very well put together resource to help children and parents navigate issues related to technology, especially as it relates to screen time. This can be difficult aspect of life as children can become instantly hooked on smart phones, tablets, and other screen-based devices. In the book, Howard tells the story of a young girl named Polly who goes to visit her grandparents farm for her birthday. While there she receives the gift of a new tablet. In the beginning of the story Polly is so excited to receive such a wonderful gift and spends all of her time with her new tablet. Yet she neglects time with her grandparents and her cousins. Eventually the tablet must be recharged, so Polly goes outside to play and there she discovers what she loves most about her grandparents farm. In the end she learns to balance screen time and family time, but it was not an easy lesson to learn.
This book is a very simple, yet practical way to discuss the issue of screen time and technology with children. It is a well written story that makes a deeper point. While the basic story is simplistic, and all works out well in end, the author acknowledges that this is not always the case in real life. She discusses this in a section at the end of the book for parents and adults. Yet it is a wonderful way to model healthy screen time. The book provides a tangible resource for parents to help guide their children to a healthy use of technology. The illustrations by Samara Hardy are very well done and age appropriate. Betsy Childs Howard and Samara Hardy also worked together on Arlo and the Great Big Cover-Up (Crossway, 2020).
Polly and the Screen Time Overload is an excellent resource for parents as they guide their children toward a healthy balance in their use of technology. This resource is a great addition to any child’s library and is very well written and well done. For parents of younger children this book is a must read.
Editor’s note: This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.