The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

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by Catherine Steiner-Adair, Teresa H. Barker
     
 

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Have iPads replaced conversation at the dinner table?

What do infants observe when their parents are on their smartphones?

Should you be your child's Facebook friend?

As the focus of family has turned to the glow of the screen—children constantly texting their friends, parents working online around the clock&

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Overview

Have iPads replaced conversation at the dinner table?

What do infants observe when their parents are on their smartphones?

Should you be your child's Facebook friend?

As the focus of family has turned to the glow of the screen—children constantly texting their friends, parents working online around the clock—everyday life is undergoing a massive transformation. Easy availability to the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect children from the unsavory aspects of adult life. Parents often feel they are losing a meaningful connection with their children. Children are feeling lonely and alienated. The digital world is here to stay, but what are families losing with technology's gain?

As renowned clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair explains, families are in crisis around this issue, and even more so than they realize. Not only do chronic tech distractions have deep and lasting effects, but children desperately need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, significant interactions with the adults in their lives. Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical work with children and parents, and her consulting work with educators and experts across the country, Steiner-Adair offers insights and advice that can help parents achieve greater under-standing, authority, and confidence as they come up against the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms.

We all know that deep connection with the people we love means everything to us. It's time to look with fresh eyes and an open mind at the disconnection we are experiencing from our extreme device dependence. It's never too late to put down the iPad and come to the dinner table.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Parents text relentlessly or worship the computer screen, while children learn more from social media than from school. The result? Distorted family dynamics and children unable to develop sustaining relationships. Advice from a clinical psychologist.
The New York Times Book Review - Jessica Valenti
The Big Disconnect will most likely have parents cringing in recognition—who among us hasn't handed off an iPhone for a blessed few quiet minutes in a restaurant? This is an unsettling but necessary book, confirming what parents probably already know but do their best not to think about…Steiner-Adair provides helpful suggestions for parents seeking to limit tech time and re-engage with their children.
Publishers Weekly
In a book that should be required reading for all parents, Steiner-Adair examines the extraordinary negative impact of the digital revolution on parents and children. A practicing clinical psychologist and parent, Steiner-Adair shares cautionary tales from her work with children and adolescents, families, and schools, as well as the work of her colleagues. Her deepest concern lies with parents who, because of their use of technology (smart phones, iPad’s, the Internet), are distracted from their children at moments when they would otherwise have been engaged. From birth, babies sense this distraction, so she suggests that parents “follow the consensus of expert medical, scientific, psychological, and other child development opinion to leave tech out of your baby’s life for the first twenty-four months.” She sounds the alarm consistently throughout her book. Preschool-age children have told her “how disheartening it is to have to vie for their parent’s attention and often come in second” to technology. She ties the “dramatic rise” in ADD/ADHD diagnoses to the “negative effects of media and screen play on children’s self-regulation, attention, aggressive behaviors, sleep, and play patterns.” In addition to discussing examples of cyberbullying, she explores tweens and teens’ lack of real-life connections as they conduct more of their social lives online. Throughout this highly readable study, Steiner-Adair offers sound and sympathetic advice regarding this unprecedented “revolution in the living room.” Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (Aug.)
Michael Thompson
“In her insightful and compelling new book, Catherine Steiner-Adair reveals how technology and the Internet are fragmenting American families, leaving parents confused and children lonely. Put down your smartphone and read this book!”
Edward M. Hallowell
“A riveting, hugely important book that every parent will want to read. . . . A great book, rooted in massive research, told in vivid, charming, unforgettable narrative, conveying a message of the utmost relevance today.”
Nanci Z. Kauffman
“This is a must read for parents and educators. Parents will embrace Steiner-Adair’s step-by-step solutions, focused on building deeper and more meaningful family relationships; teachers will better understand the need to manage the double-edged sword of technology as a tool for learning.”
Madeline Levine
“Catherine Steiner Adair with great wisdom, and compassion for our confusion, helps lead us out of this technological thicket. . . . A mandatory read for our own sake as well as the sake of our children.”
Susan Ginsberg EdD
“I absolutely love this book. Dr. Steiner-Adair offers wonderful suggestions for dealing with issues the new tech world has brought upon us--all based on the reassuring premise that the family shapes a child’s brain, mind, body and soul in unique human ways that technology can’t replace.”
William Powers
“Finally, a book that comprehensively answers the question parents everywhere have been struggling with: How to raise happy, creative, caring kids in the age of screens? The Big Disconnect is not just a smart book, it’s a very, very wise one.”
New York Times Book Review
“This is an unsettling but necessary book, confirming what parents probably already know but do their best not to think about. . . . Steiner-Adair provides helpful suggestions for parents seeking to limit tech time and re-engage with their children.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Do your kids a favor and read this important book.”
Associated Press Staff
The Big Disconnect offers terrific parenting advice that transcends technology, tackling issues like self-identity, navigating friendships and sex. Its message is not exclusive to kids, but aimed at every family member: stay connected to people and nature as often as possible.”
Dwight Garner
“Ms. Steiner-Adair’s book can be eloquent about the need to ration our children’s computer time. . . . Her summary of what to say to your kids - it’s on Page 191- is so good, so State of the Unionlike, that I took a photo of it with my iPhone.”
USA Today
“Psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair says tech-and self-absorption disappoints and disregards our children.”
Wall Street Journal
“Those who haven’t spent much time ‘IRL’ with their kids lately will recognize their own households in the pages of The Big Disconnect. . . . [Catherine Steiner-Adair] wants us to reclaim the immemorial rhythms of the hearth and shield our children from the...digital age.”
James P. Steyer
“Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair has her finger on the pulse of the social and emotional challenges kids face in today’s 24/7 media culture. Take her insight to heart. As parents, we can help our kids walk the thin line between the perils and possibilities of digital life.”
Kirkus Reviews
Parents and children may be enjoying "swift and constant access to everything and everyone on the Internet," but they are losing "a meaningful personal connection with each other in their own homes." So warns Steiner-Adair (Psychiatry/Harvard Medical School; Full of Ourselves: A Wellness Program to Advance Girl Power, Health, and Leadership, 2005, etc.), who argues that family life has been dangerously eroded as parents have become increasingly addicted to digital devices. Their obsession with online connectivity provides an inappropriate role model for their children and takes a special toll on young children, who need undivided attention. Instead, parents use digital devices to occupy their children; these days, the author notes, some preschoolers are more adept at manipulating digital devices than tying their own shoes. Parental inattention is responsible for increased injuries to children, according to the Centers for Disease Control; 22 percent of adults who send text messages are "so distracted by their devices that they have physically bumped into an object or person." Steiner-Adair's primary concern, however, is not the physical but the psychological damage inflicted on children by multitasking parents; in her clinical practice, she finds children "tired of being the 'call waiting' in their parents' lives." The author also addresses psychological issues that can arise when children are overexposed to the media and to inappropriate content such as the violence and sexual stereotyping in computer games. She is concerned that the current tendency to substitute texting for direct communication may be eroding empathy by creating a rapid-response environment in which sexual flaunting, rumor and gossip flourish. She emphasizes that indirect communication is inherently impoverished, eliminating body language and vocal cues. This makes it even more important for parents to create an emotionally satisfying, sheltering family environment that fosters character development. An important guide to an occasionally overlooked aspect of modern parenting.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062082442
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/13/2013
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
215,627
File size:
1 MB

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