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From Screen Time to Cyber Safety: King School PA Series Empowers Parents in the Digital World

Parenting in a digital era brings challenges that the King School Parents’ Association (PA) tackled head-on in its PA Speaker Series on Thursday, February 8. Community members packed the Performing Arts Center to listen to Stamford native Devorah Heitner, Ph.D., an accomplished author, speaker, and tech consultant, deliver practical and non-judgmental advice on navigating the complexities of raising children in this new landscape. 

“As we were planning the year and talking about who we’d like to have as our main speaker, it was important to us that we find someone with a topic that was relevant, meaningful, and timely and that our parents could really benefit from,” said Parents’ Association President Sandy Burgoyne as she opened the evening. “Devorah Heitner hits the mark on all of that and more.”


Heitner followed Burgoyne to deliver an interactive presentation addressing common questions, such as whether parents should read their child’s texts and if colleges scrutinize prospective students' social media profiles. She offered guidance on cultivating authenticity in a world where every moment can be shared and inevitably compared.

Author of two books, “Growing Up in Public: Coming Of Age In A Digital World” and “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World,” combining relatable stories with research-backed advice. Her books, which are available in the school store, underline the importance of setting young people up for a lifetime of success in a world where they are likely to find a job, make friends, and pursue their interests in interactive, digital communities. 

When Burgoyne read Heitner’s book, she realized the entire community would benefit from the author’s message. She took the idea of Heitner as a guest speaker to Head of School Carol Maoz and Associate Head of School for Strategic Programming and Head of our Upper School Marnie Sadlowsky, and found full support from both. 

The PA also added a bonus to this event by bringing Heitner to the classroom. The morning after the event in the PAC, Heitner spoke with middle and upper school students about navigating digital life.

“This is top of mind here at King School,” said Burgoyne. “Our Digital Wellness committee, led by faculty member Daniel Block, has this at the forefront of their conversations as well.”

Block, who spearheads digital wellness at King, appreciated the PA’s efforts to focus on this issue.

“Dr. Heitner's presentation stood out for its empathetic and respectful attitude toward the challenges of ‘growing up in public,’ a posture that would serve parents well as they work to mentor rather than monitor their children's behavior online,” he said after watching her speech in the PAC.

Parents in attendance also drew from the message Heitner brought to King. Jennifer Munger, a parent of an eighth-grade student, found Heitner’s insights helpful.

“Devorah’s discussion explaining how to mentor versus monitor your child in text and social media activity resonates,” said Munger, adding that Heitner’s anecdotes about her own parenting experiences made her relatable. “It made us think about what skills we need to continue to teach our children in this ‘texting’ world.” 

Jenny Mehta has two children in ninth grade. She was thrilled to hear Heitner’s insights.

“Devorah Heitner's "Growing Up in Public" discussion was helpful in guiding parents through navigating when and how we should - or should not! - intervene when our kids get into sticky situations on social media platforms,” said Mehta. “I appreciated her realistic but not alarmist perspective on the negative aspects of social media, and also her open-mindedness to let kids navigate these processes on their own to some degree when it's safe to do so.”  

Heitner’s book “Growing Up in Public” can be purchased at the school store in-person or online here.