If anybody knows how to talk back to Facebook, it’s Jim Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, America’s largest and most powerful advocacy group for kids. Steyer is the author of the new book, Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, which includes an introduction by Chelsea Clinton and presents parents, teachers and politicians with a very practical and realistic strategy for managing the social media activities of children.
“It’s a conversation we need to have,” Steyer told me when he came into our San Francisco studio to talk about what he calls social media’s “epochal change”. Social media, he insists, is changing the cognitive development of kids, encouraging narcissism and changing the way their brains develop. It’s time Silicon Valley – particularly Google, Apple and Facebook – take leadership on this critical issue, he told me. But it’s not just technology companies that need to recognize the destructively transformational impact on kids. Everybody – from parents to teachers to politicians – need to learn to talk back to Facebook, he insists. Which is why, of course, he wrote his book.
But is Jim Steyer right? Do we really need to be having that conversation about Facebook with our kids?