Kristin Stiles’ Review of POLLY AND THE SCREEN TIME OVERLOAD, by Betsy Childs Howard

Published on March 22, 2022 by Eugene Ho

Crossway, 2022 | 40 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

by Kristin Stiles


Everywhere you go there seems to be a child with his or her eyes glued to a screen. You see it in the stores, in restaurants, in cars, and even in parks. We live in a society where children spend a great deal of their free time entertained by technology. While there is certainly a time and place for this type of entertainment, for many children it has become a habit, or worse, an addiction.

In Polly and the Screen Time Overload, Betsy Childs Howard takes a gently and measured look at this issue. Howard introduces us to Polly, a young girl who is eagerly looking forward to spending time with her grandparents on their farm. When a well-meaning aunt gives Polly a tablet on her first day at the farm, though, Polly is so enamored with the games and videos she can watch on her tablet that she doesn’t have any attention for anything else around her. She doesn’t interact with her grandparents or her cousins who live nearby. She doesn’t go out horseback riding or playing in the fields and barn. She doesn’t help with the farm chores that used to bring such delight to her.

When the tablet’s battery dies and she has to wait for it to recharge, she is forced to go back to all those activities that she had been so excited to do before. She is reminded of all the joys there are in “real life” and in interacting with real people. Her grandparents lovingly remind her that although playing on the tablet wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t the best use of her time and that she was missing out on so much. Thankfully, there was still enough time left on the farm to enjoy all of those other activities and the tablet could wait.

This book provides a gentle way of broaching the subject of technology use. Children can be asked what other activities they could do to fill their time instead of defaulting to screens. Parents can discuss what opportunities will be missed by spending too much time on phones and tablets and video systems. At the end of the book, Howard offers a “Note to Grown-ups” with some advice and some practical ideas for how to help your child avoid too much screen time.

It should be noted that this book does not address the dangers that lurk on the internet. This book is only focused on use of time and how it relates to technology. It does, however, do a good job of addressing that topic with a very young audience (3–7-year-olds).


Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.

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Crossway, 2022 | 40 pages

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