Who’s Raising the Kids? Big Tech, Big Business, and the Lives of Children

Written by Susan Linn

From The New Press:

From a world-renowned expert on creative play and the impact of commercial marketing on children, a timely investigation into how big tech is hijacking childhood—and what we can do about it
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies had become deeply embedded in children’s lives, despite a growing body of research detailing the harms of excessive immersion in the unregulated, powerfully seductive, profit-driven world of the “kid-tech” industry.

In Who’s Raising the Kids? Linn—one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of Big Tech and big business on children—explores the roots and consequences of this monumental shift toward a digitized, commercialized childhood, focusing on kids’ values, relationships, and learning. From birth, kids have become lucrative fodder for a range of tech, media, and toy companies, from producers of exploitative games and social media platforms to “educational” technology and branded school curricula of dubious efficacy.

Noting that many Silicon Valley elites wouldn’t dream of exposing their young kids to the very technologies they’ve unleashed on other people’s children, Who’s Raising the Kids? is unique—a highly readable social critique and guide to protecting kids from exploitation by the tech, toy, and entertainment industries. Linn provides a deep and eye-opening dive into exactly how new technologies enable huge conglomerates to transform young children into lifelong consumers by infiltrating their lives and influencing their values, relationships and learning. She persuasively argues that our digitized-commercialized culture is damaging for kids and families as well as society at large, and maps out what we must do to change course.

Written with humor and compassion, the book concludes with two hopeful chapters—“Resistance Parenting” and “Making a Difference for Everybody’s Kids”—that chart a path for protecting kids from targeting by the tech, toy, and entertainment industries that treat them as lucrative bundles of data and as mini-consumers ripe for exploitation rather than as the children they need to be.

Praise for Who’s Raising the Kids:
“An impassioned indictment of tech companies making big money off exploiting the minds of our children.”
—New York Post

“Engrossing and insightful. . . . [Who’s Raising the Kids?] is rich with details that paint a full portrait of contemporary child-corporate relations.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“A guide on changing course both individually and as a society, by an experienced activist; a must-read.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“A stunning examination of how marketing, technology, and consumer capitalism impact the well-being of children. . . . This is a must-read for parents and educators.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A must-read for any parent.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Pioneer researcher and activist Susan Linn shows that we have been passive as our children were shaped into the selves that tech companies wanted them to be; adults have not met their duty of care. Who’s Raising the Kids? is a call to arms and a core text for a necessary national conversation.”
—Sherry Turkle, professor, MIT, and author of Alone Together, Reclaiming Conversation, and The Empathy Diaries

“An invaluable response for parents at an impossible moment—and for those of us whose kids are already grown, a great guide to resisting the platforms and apps that are constricting the life of our society in ever more painful ways.”
—Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened

“Who’s Raising the Kids? is a book about a dangerous divergence—between the profit-maximizing strategies of companies that market toys, apps, and social media to children, on the one hand, and the actual needs of children, on the other. Drawing from an impressive collection of studies and stories, Linn illuminates the harms of what she aptly calls ‘a corporate takeover of childhood’ and shows us what we can do to protect all our kids.”
—Alfie Kohn, author of The Schools Our Children Deserve and Punished by Rewards

“Every child needs an advocate like Susan Linn; every parent—a wise friend like her; every politician and corporate leader—a bold challenger like her. And every reader needs this book—a passionate and supremely practical reckoning with one of the