• Nimrod Bar-Levin

Why children turn out the way they do

As I stated in the introduction to this guide, my model of approaching the parent-child smartphone arena rests on the work of three authors in particular, each focusing on a slightly different concept that I feel fit together well. One of the most important of these comes from Judith Rich-Harris in her book "The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do."

Judith was (unfortunately she died some months ago) the "bad kid" of the branch of psychology she researched and published in because she introduced different opinions and approaches about parenthood, if not the complete opposite from prevailing theory (maybe that's why I like her so much...).

We've all wondered what makes us who we are. How much of our personalities is biological and how much is experiential? Assuming that experience does help shape who we are as we grow up, what experiences weigh on us the most? Judith took a unique approach, saying that there are three factors that affect kids during their childhood:

  • Genetics

  • 1st Circle - parents and other primary caregivers

  • 2nd Circle - kids in the same class/school/street/neighborhood

Judith said that genetics are responsible for 50% of a child's behavior and future adult personality, meaning that 50% is completely out of our control, for better or for worse. She also laid out strong evidence to support her theory that the second-most-influential factor in a child's life aren't parents at all, but that 2nd circle of social interaction - and by a lot too.

So, her bottom line was that us parents shouldn't blame ourselves too much for the "unsuccessful adults" that we raised, nor win prizes for the "successful adults" that come out of our family. On the positive side, Judith does say what parents can do to have a positive impact on their children, for example by improving their 2nd circle (external environment) by moving to a better neighborhood/school.

Now, here is the main update/upgrade I offer (if I may): nowadays the 2nd circle is mainly built upon the digital world. Multi-player games, comments and reactions on social media, cyberbullying and other 2nd circle activities take place, in fact, in the screens of the world. If you agree with Judith and with this development of mine, it means that smartphones have a tremendous impact a child's future and personality.

Next I look at Esther Wojcicki's approach on How to raise successful people.

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