The Game is Playing Your Kid by Dr. Joe Dilley, a book review

 In Books and Movies

Joe-DilleyIt seems like every generation of parents encounters new challenges that weren’t faced by their parents or grandparents, which often leaves us wondering whom to turn to for advice. Raising kids in the digital age presents a whole slew of these challenges: When should I get my daughter a phone? How do I appropriately monitor her social media profiles and Internet usage? What video games are suitable at what ages? How long should I let him play? Should I have different rules at home versus when we travel? Why is getting him to turn off his device and come to dinner such a battle every day? How do I find the balance of letting her plug in to all the digital world offers, while not letting her addiction to devices run (and ruin?) the family dynamic? The answers might seem obvious or easy, but anyone with a child hooked on devices – or one surrounded by other children who are – knows the battles and feelings of doubt that can ensue.

Enter The Game is Playing Your Kid: How to Unplug and Reconnect in the Digital Age, by Dr. Joe Dilley – a thought-provoking book with more than a few nuggets of practical advice. This book outlines a three-step approach that first has you honestly examine how much the issue of screen time is affecting your family’s dynamics. Dilley then suggests a multi-faceted solution, which taps into the natural ways that kids learn and offers specific strategies to use in a variety of different situations. I found this section to be the most informative and useful part of the book. Finally, Dilley offers advice on how to tailor his solution to your family’s unique needs, as well as appropriate ways to back off when the time is right.

As a parent who already monitors and limits my children’s screen time and access to devices, I initially wondered if Dilley’s book would have anything to offer me. What I found were many useful tips on how to navigate the different facets of this issue, especially as my children enter adolescence and their lives demand more time on devices. The focus of the book really is the structuring and monitoring of access so that screens and devices aren’t running your family’s life, not the complete removal of access.

Something I liked about the book was that Dilley offers many tips on connecting and communicating with your children that not only apply to screen time and devices, but also to other parenting situations. The chapter on “Playing Defense” in particular offered great advice on a leveled approach in reacting (or not) when your son or daughter is pushing your buttons trying to get something they want.

I also really liked how Dilley’s approach is geared toward developing long-term behaviors, not just short-term fixes, which will follow your children through adolescence into college and beyond. If you do it right, your child will learn to self-regulate and to continue to make positive choices when it comes to technology, their time and relationships, even when they are away from you. What parent doesn’t want that?

One caveat about the book, however, is that it often replaces negative behaviors and rewards positive choices and behaviors with large doses of non screen-based quality time with you – the parent. The subtitle of the book is “How to Unplug and Reconnect in the Digital Age” and Dilley really stresses the reconnection part of that. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort – and maybe to change some things about your own choices and behaviors. Dilley made me rethink my own digital habits and the behaviors I am modeling for my kids, both consciously and unconsciously. My husband and I have already made some changes based on some of the things that he talks about.

If you’re already asking yourself the tough questions that lead you to this book in the first place, you will find a lot of good takeaways here. Dilley’s book doesn’t offer a quick and easy fix, but the rewards for your family – especially long-term – will be worth it.


Author Dr. Joe Dilley

Publisher’s Synopsis: It’s about time the game had a referee…

As technology advances and digital devices infiltrate our homes, it is important to monitor how our kids are using these items. But how can you decrease your kids’ overreliance on technology without stifling their freedom or making them “outsiders” amongst their peers?

It can seem that there is no satisfactory solution to this dilemma, but do not despair–the assistance you need is here!

In The Game is Playing Your Kid: How to Unplug and Reconnect in the Digital Age, Dr. Joe Dilley shares his profoundly effective three-step process that will facilitate your kids’ transition away from overuse of technology and toward more responsible and mindful use, so they unplug from devices and reconnect with your family in organic, lasting ways.

Title: The Game is Playing Your Kid: How to Unplug and Reconnect in the Digital Age
Author: Dr. Joe Dilley
Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing Group (1st edition)
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Format: Paperback, eBook
Language: English
Pages:  248 pages
ISBN: 978-1634132961
For ages: 18+


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Cover and author images provided by the publisher.

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