Growing Up In Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World by Devorah Heitner
TarcherPerigee(an imprint of Penguin Random House), September 12, 2023
In her most recent book, Devorah Heitner relies on a synthesis of research, along with her decades of conversations with students, parents, and educators, to describe the digital world our teens and tweens must navigate. She places next to one another the latest realities of technology (the ability of parents to track their children's movements, grades, and postings), the reality of teens (the desire to belong, to be known, to use social media to their benefit, as well as the fears of being canceled) and what is known about how to raise empathetic, independent, authentic, boundary-aware young adults. In the end, Heitner argues that parents and educators can help children and students navigate technology and life by discussing dilemmas, focusing on character more than threatening consequences, modeling boundary-setting, and supporting young adults to hold themselves accountable when mistakes are made. She argues for authenticity, voice, and responsibility over branding and surveillance, as she seeks to help parents and educators understand and intentionally decide how to mentor and guide our children and students in navigating their almost-constantly-digital world. In settings where parents frequently look to schools for answers about technology use, and productive partnerships often point the way forward, this book is a steadying addition to the conversation.