Left to Their Own Devices? Confident Parenting in a World of Screens

Pages: 160
ISBN: 978-1-910012-43-7
Publication Date: 19/05/2017
Format: Paperback | eBook

Price: £9.99

Katharine Hill tackles the important issues head on. A brilliant tool for parents, full of practical wisdom and advice. Read it now and, above all, don’t leave your children to their own devices.
Rob Parsons OBE

“How do I relate to my fifteen-year-old, whose phone needs to be surgically removed from her hand?”

“How do I stop my five-year-old from throwing an iPaddy when screen time is over?”

“How do I help my child to stay safe online?”

Ten years ago, we didn’t need to ask these questions.

But today these questions are very real. And we need answers.

Katharine Hill explores the impact of the digital world on teenagers and younger children, giving practical advice on screen time, social media, and consumer culture as well as how to tackle some of the more serious issues such as cyberbullying, grooming and pornography.
Whether you are cradling a newborn or riding the rollercoaster of the teenage years, a stranger to Snapchat or have 500 followers on Twitter, this book is for mums and dads who not only want to ‘cope’ with bringing up children in the world of digital technology but to be on the front foot – confidently parenting in a world of screens.

What People are Saying

“I believe the issues addressed in Left to Their Own Devices are some of the most important for today’s parents – and whether our children are toddlers or teens. I urge you to read it.”
Rob Parsons OBE, founder and chairman of Care for the Family

“Technology is a crucial part of all our lives.  There are huge advantages and some pitfalls we should avoid. Katharine Hill addresses these in a very readable way.  Using stories from her own family, anecdotes she has been told and drawing on research evidence she takes parents through the maze of today’s technology and the devices our children encounter daily. The cartoons support some of the humorous stories Katharine relates and most chapters have a practical suggestion section entitled ‘What parents can do’ which many people will find invaluable.  Some also have a section entitled ‘When things go wrong’ which is most informative.
This is a subject every parent will need to address, will be addressing or will have addressed.  It would be a great book to read as a family or with other parents. Parents can be reassured by this book not to deny opportunities to their children, but to embrace technology with an awareness of the negative aspects which can lie in wait.
This is a first-class read, and one which should be on parents’ wish list.”
Dave Lumsdon, Academic and Professional Tutor, Educational Psychology, Newcastle University & Principal Psychologist for dblpsychology

“When an issue becomes a storyline in a soap opera you know there’s a problem! And Katharine Hill in this book grasps all the nettles that families now face in this internet age. Her book is well researched and brilliantly connected to the digital world. It resonates with the tensions between children and their parents. It is immensely readable. It is warm, funny, serious and compassionate. It will help you download practical advice to make the most of living as a family in the digital era.”
The Rt Revd James Jones KBE, former bishop of Liverpool

“We might find ourselves feeling fearful, uncomfortable and unprepared for parenting in this digital age, but what we cannot do is remain silent and uninvolved. Years of youth work has shown me how most young people feel oppressed, in some way, by perceived sex pressures that are amplified by technology. We may feel powerless, but the key message of this book is that we’re not! What our children need is for us to acknowledge the reality of the pressures in all young people’s lives, define our messages and initiate conversations with our children that are factual, sensitive and effective. I’m grateful to Katherine for writing the book that all of us involved with raising children in the digital age need to read.”
Rachel Gardner, President of the Girls Brigade England and Wales; Founder of Romance Academy, Youthscape

“The iphone and my ten-year-old daughter were birthed in the same year. As parents, we are raising her in an exciting but often overwhelming digital landscape, which is why I’m am so glad Katharine has written this book. Bringing wisdom and hope in equal measure, Katharine gives parents and guardians clarity and advice to navigate this new swipe and like culture.”
Ian Henderson, Founder of the Naked Truth Project.

Left to their own devices? offers invaluable help to any parent wanting to protect and guide their child in the complexities of today’s digital world. We cannot leave our children to work it out for themselves. Parents need Katharine Hill’s important advice from the word go.”
Nicky and Sila Lee, Founders of The Marriage and Parenting Courses

“When CS Lewis said, ‘Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one,’ he anticipated how parents will feel when they open this book. Katharine Hill has skilfully and sensitively tackled a terribly thorny subject, that can provoke stress factor 50 levels of fruitless angst, with razor-sharp insight and unremitting authenticity. This book is a much-needed resource full of solutions but it is far more than that. It is a true friend who constantly shouts encouragement at you from the sidelines of the parenting marathon.”
Dr Samantha Callan, family policy expert and parliamentary advisor to Lord Farmer

“Katharine gives practical parenting advice on the trickiest topics and it’s the kind of wisdom you only gain from experience. You’ll hear stories from parents who have faced the challenges you do, and have come out the other side. Buy this book and enjoy the careful balance of thorough research, refreshing honesty, and the brilliant humour of the illustrations. Every parent needs to know this stuff, and thanks to Katharine and Care for the Family they can!”
Jason Royce, youth educator and campaigner

“This book is a must read for any parent – full of practical wisdom and helpful tips. It is a much-needed guide for navigating the unchartered waters of parenting in this digital age.”
Sarah Abell – Author; relationships coach; former agony aunt for The Daily Telegraph

“Katherine has used a mix of story, humour, facts, figures and wisdom to provide us with this excellent guide to parenting in the digital world. Never has a book been more needed. The landscape of parenting is changing fast and this book captures a moment that will help you capture your children’s moments.”
Mark & Lindsay Melluish, authors; New Wine leaders

A Note from Muddy Pearl

As a parent of tweens, I’m both excited by and petrified of the digital world my kids are growing up in. My first experience of the internet was at university, where ‘going online’ was accompanied by a slightly unbearable humming and scraping noise as the lines connected. The world I grew up in was very different to the one my kids now face. Even though I consider myself to be relatively tech-savvy, the challenges of parenting in this digital era can be somewhat daunting.

The boundaries and guidelines we put in place for our kids are absolutely crucial. But when it comes to screens, it can sometimes be tricky to know where to start. How do we communicate with our kids about some of the potential online dangers? How can we maximise the benefits that screens offer? How can we continue to connect well as a family rather than allow screens to take over?

Left to Their Own Devices? addresses all these questions, offering wise and practical guidance, and has already proved to be a helpful resource for our family. After returning from a screen-free two-week holiday, we took the opportunity to reset our family screen culture. So we decided to implement one of the pieces of advice Katharine gives at the end of chapter four and develop a ‘family media agreement’. Following Katharine’s guidelines, the five of us sat down and talked about a weekly plan of when and how much the kids could play on technology, what the rules would be when they had friends round, when and what they could watch on TV, and, perhaps most importantly, what the rules were for Mum and Dad for the use of their iphones.
We kept it quite clear and simple so that it would be easier for us to all follow, and more importantly, to stick to. We’re now 4 weeks into our new routine, and I’m pleased to say that we have stuck to our agreement – with a few times of flexibility. I think we’re talking more as a family, and the kids are being more creative in the games they are playing. Our eldest has taught the younger two to play chess; I’m not sure this would have happened without our new media agreement.
Kids generally respond well to clear boundaries. But sometimes it’s difficult to know what boundaries are fair and helpful, particularly when we’re navigating new territory.
And that’s why the combination of useful information and practical tips that Katharine brings in this book is invaluable – helping us as parents to both protect our children and enable them to flourish in a digital world.


Anna Robinson, Muddy Pearl Assistant Editor

About the Author

Katharine Hill is UK Director for Care for the Family. She speaks and writes widely on family matters; she blogs regularly for the Huffington Post and is a popular speaker, writer and broadcaster. She has practiced as a family lawyer and as a member of the board of the International Commission for Couple and Family Relations, as well as being a member of a government advisory group on family issues. Katharine is married to Richard and they have four grown-up children.

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