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Growing up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane

My rating: 5 of 5

ebook, 208 pages
Parenting (some Christian references)
Published September 1st 2014 by Northfield Publishing
Available on: Paperback, KindleAudioCD

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What they say:

What I have to say:

With that said, let me start this review by saying that I was attracted to read this book by its cover and title.

Growing Up Social book cover

The cover is very intriguing and thought provoking. For me it’s a perfect depiction of what is happening to kids who are “growing up” social. Are they really growing up in the right direction? What kind of adults are they “growing up” to be? Their bodies grow up but what about their minds? Are these going to be the wise adults that will keep the world up and running in the future? What about the kids of those kids? Look at those two kids in the cover. They are sitting at the same table and aren’t even facing each other. Is this the definition of social interaction? What is the future of relationships? This cover fits the book.

I’m a private tutor, and I have observed differences among my students as the times go by. My students are now living in a digital world, and I’ve been wondering on the effects of the increasing influence of technology in their lives. I’ve been having doubts on the inclusion of tech devices in my classes. I’ve seen differences in performance and behavior among those students who are highly dependent on screens for fun and schoolwork, and those who don’t use it at all. I had a lot of doubts and questions about this issue of kids growing up social. As soon as I saw the title of this book I picked it up thankfully it gave me all the answers I needed. And what’s best of all, it gave me reassurance that my beliefs regarding screen time for children aren’t wrong.

The writing is straight to the point. The concepts are clearly explained. There are many practical and doable examples on how to apply the suggestions the authors make. The only thing that bothered me was the use of “I” and “my”. This book was written by two authors, therefore when either of them told a personal anecdote, they always wrote “I (Arlene)”, my (Arlene’s), “I (Gary)” or “my (Gary’s)”. This took away from my reading experience. I don’t mean to sound rude, but I didn’t care feel the need to know to whom each anecdote belonged to. I don’t know if that’s the norm for self-help books with co-authors but like I said, it takes from the reading experience.

The book constantly makes reference to Gary Chapman’s work about the 5 languages of love. If you have read his work, this book will feel like a good companion or addition to your previous knowledge on the matter. For those who like me, weren’t aware of this, don’t worry, it doesn’t make you feel in a twilight zone. You don’t need to have read his previous work to get a ton of invaluable knowledge.

Growing up social does not emphasize only on the negative effects screen time has on our kids: slow language development, aggressive behavior, frustration, negative thoughts, weak interpersonal relationships, lack of virtues, feeling of entitlement, short attention span, lack of emotional connections, rebellion toward authority, etc. It is not a book to attack technology. The authors recognize that with a purpose and a plan, screen time can be a wonderful way to bring families closer.

The important lesson to learn is that there has to be balance, limits, and boundaries for screen time enforced by parents in order to raise healthy and productive human beings. These parameters don’t have to be imposed or forced on children. They are set in a way that children learn to make decisions and learn to live within these boundaries.

Growing up social focuses on the importance of proactively teaching our children 5 skills for building healthy relationships:

  1. showing affection,
  2. appreciation of others,
  3. anger management,
  4. learning to apologize, and
  5. paying attention.

These 5 A+ skills, as the authors call them, can make a positive impact on our children forever. And the good thing about these skills is that teaching/enforcing/practicing them doesn’t require out of this world resources or actions. The authors show us very practical and simple ways for families to enforce these skills in order to keep screen time on a safe level in our families.

Growing up social is an excellent book for parents. I agree with the authors when they say that: “Unfortunately, we live in a parenting culture where it is increasingly common for children to call the shots instead of the parents.” (I’ve been witnessing this with my students more and more these days; especially when technology is involved and the parents aren’t tech savvy. It has been my role as a tutor to enforce in these kids respect for their parents’ authority.)

Growing up social is an empowering book for parents. This book can be an eye opener for those who are feeling lost or despaired in their mission. It fills you with hope and reminds you that it is never too late to make positive changes that will influence your children for the rest of their lives. It positively recharges you and makes you remember that “you are the parent at the wheel who decides the direction of your family.”

Growing up social is not only for parents or single parents, but also a great resource for grandparents, families, teachers, nannies, tutors, counselors, and anyone who is in constant contact with children and has some responsibility in their upbringing can greatly benefit from reading this book. The discussion group questions at the end of the book are great aids for those who read this book or for family oriented book clubs as well. Author Gary Chapman has additional free downloadable bonuses on his website if you’d like to check them out. I am very selective as to which books get 5 stars in my book shelf. I highly recommend reading this book.


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It was hard to choose a few quotes for this part of my review, as there are so many invaluable lessons in this book.

Young children grow by discovering the world. They need to experience a three-dimensional world of people and things they can taste, touch, see, hear, and smell. This foundational exploration can’t happen if a baby or toddler spends a lot of time using electronics.

Young children learn language best when it’s presented by a live person and not on a screen.


The best alternative to watching a video with your young child is cuddling up and reading a book. As your child is exposed to books, his or her vocabulary will grow. Becoming a great reader begins with listening, so read aloud and often to your son or daughter.


The symptoms of video game addiction are similar to those of addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Video games begin interfering with everyday life. Personal hygiene isn’t practiced. Assignments, chores, and responsibilities are left undone. Family relationships suffer.


It is your job as a parent to teach your children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate content. Do not leave this task to a teacher, pastor, or counselor. In the same way you would not allow your child to eat candy bars for dinner each night, you cannot allow your child to consume screen-time junk food. You are the gatekeeper of your child’s mental diet.


Children must learn to process emotions, and none of that is learned in front of a screen but by interacting with parents, siblings, and other people in real time, face to face.


Real life certainly isn’t characterized by endless options, drop-down menus, and constant pleasure.


A tech-saturated child doesn’t have the patience to do anything hard. Technology trains children to find what they need at the speed of light. The art of patience is lost.


Children today are rewarded even if they don’t perform well. It’s common for sports teams to give every child a trophy. Regardless of whether your team wins or loses, you still get a trophy. All you have to do is show up, and you’ll get something. What does that do to a child’s motivation to achieve? He grows up with a false expectation that whatever effort he puts forth—excellent or poor—will be rewarded.


Virtues are behaviors that show high moral standards. Responsibility. Compassion. Persistence. Faith. There is no virtue app you can download into your child’s heart and mind. Virtues are taught and caught as children observe and listen to their parents talk about what is right and what is wrong.


It’s healthy for children to watch their parents making eye contact with each other, hugging, kissing, and holding hands. It brings security to a child when his parents are affectionate with one another.


The eyes are the window to your child’s soul. Look into them often, and don’t be in a rush to get to the next thing on your agenda. Just lingering for a few seconds of eye contact can make a big difference in the level of affection your child feels from you.


Sharing stories deepens your family relationships. Don’t allow technology to steal time from family storytelling. Those stories will root your children in your affection.


Your child and his billion plus brain cells are waiting to be nourished and developed—not by screens, but by you as a parent.

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I received an Electronic copy of this book but was not financially compensated in any way nor obliged to review. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my personal experience while reading it. This post contains affiliate links as stated in my disclosure policy.