- Schastlivyi rebenok by Andrei Kurpatov
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of digitalization—a glocal phenomenon—in national economies, international transactions, and the daily life of ordinary people. Around 75 percent of the Russian population today uses the Internet, which is higher than the corresponding average rate of 54 percent of the global population.1 In 2017, 3.6 percent of the Russian GDP was spent on development of the digital economy,2 three times greater than expenditures on science, and equal to spending for public health and education in Russia. The Russian government has adopted the Strategy on Development of Digital Society for 2017–30, Digital Economy of the Russian Federation, the Doctrine of Cybersecurity, and the Concept of Regional Digitalization, which seeks to digitalize education. At the international level, Russia advances a digital agenda in the Eurasian Economic Union.
However, not all parts of Russian civil society are fully supportive of the authorities' digitalization efforts. In May 2020, 120 representatives of Russian academic and educational circles wrote an open letter to President Vladimir Putin to oppose the movement seeking to make digital education a model for the future educational system of Russia. In particular, they warned of the risk of dissocializing, harming the psycho-social development of children, and increasing the emotional hunger of children, leading to intellectual degradation.3
In this respect, Schastlivyi rebenok (A Happy Child) by Andrei Kurpatov, a famous Russian psychotherapist and the author of many bestsellers in Russia, is a useful reference for raising a happy child in a digitalized society in Russia and beyond. The author explains particular problems in a child's development, behavior, and relationships with others, and shows how these factors are worsened and complicated by the rapid developments of digital technologies like the Internet, social networking, and smartphones. On the basis of the latest neurophysiological and psychological studies and practical experiments conducted mostly by Western scientists, Kurpatov suggests how parents and educators—many of whom in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) were raised and educated in the Soviet era—should treat children in the digital age. Kurpatov shows the difference between childhood problems [End Page 141] in Soviet and post-Soviet society and provides insights into raising and educating post-Soviet children under ongoing digital developments. One of the author's key arguments is that maintaining constant curiosity in kids is a first important step in their socialization in the digital age.
The book consists of four chapters. The first chapter discusses the results of the latest studies in neurophysiology and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) to comprehensively reveal how a child's brain functions and to suggest ways to improve brain development in the current realities. This chapter argues that in light of the digital revolution, communication with children today is more complex than during Soviet times, when society was governed by a strong state ideology and social hierarchy. In the second chapter, Kurpatov explains how to understand a child's behavior, wishes, and needs through the lens of age-psychology and provides recommendations on creating a communication-friendly "offline" environment for children and increasing their motivation. This chapter clearly demonstrates the impact of social networks on the educational process and children's socialization and explores ways to help children communicate in real life and to assist teachers in organizing the educational process in groups. The third concerns positive and negative emotions and their role in the psychological development of the child. When in cyberspace, children cannot easily demonstrate and control their emotions—including fear, sorrow, and joy. Kurpatov offers methods of cultivating positive emotions and overcoming negative ones in children leading a digital life. The final chapter discusses how to manage children in the context of digital values, demonstrating ways to motivate and stimulate children and develop their interest in the surrounding world. The chapter guides adults in exploring new means of encouraging children to self-develop.
While addressing a topical issue in childrearing in post-Soviet societies, this book is not free from shortcomings. The author often refers to scientific research and...