PARENTING FOR THE DIGITAL AGE

THE TRUTH BEHIND MEDIA'S EFFECT ON CHILDREN AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

A fine personal narrative, but readers will likely want more practical parenting tips.

Ratner look at issues regarding advertising and children in this memoir and parenting-advice book.

The author’s father, a Minneapolis marketing executive, brought home the family’s first television set when Ratner was in kindergarten. The young boy watched a variety of TV shows, including Dragnet and The Ernie Kovacs Show—and even sometimes watched test patterns. Ratner also consumed all sorts of other media, from magazines to radio, and even created his own block-wide radio broadcast as a kid. As an adult, he talked his way into a job selling radio advertising time and then voiced the ads and took on other on-air work. That led to his big break as the voice of Flint for the 1980s animated series G.I. Joe. But although Ratner was steeped in the world of media and messaging, he had a healthy distrust of it. He’d learned from his father how advertisers manipulate viewers, particularly children, so he went on to create an educational program for grade-schoolers about the effects of ads. The personal anecdotes that make up the bulk of this book are lively and warm. He includes tidbits about how he raised his own daughters with far stricter limits on media exposure than he had, as well as longer passages about the marketing efforts behind juggernauts such as the Barbie and G.I. Joe franchises. The best parts of Ratner’s story, however, are rooted in the past. The true complexity of today’s parenting, when TV is the least of one’s digital worries, never comes through. As a result, the promise of the book’s subtitle, “The Truth Behind the Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It,” is never fulfilled. This is too bad, as Ratner’s stories of his childhood and his later adult skepticism didn’t need to be wrapped up in a “digital-age parenting” package—they could have stood very well on their own.

A fine personal narrative, but readers will likely want more practical parenting tips.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1939629050

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2014

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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