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

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Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair takes an in-depth look at how the Internet and the digital revolution are profoundly changing childhood and family dynamics, and offers solutions parents can use to successfully shepherd their children through the technological wilderness. Families today are embracing technology at the expense of face-to-face engagement. From cra Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair takes an in-depth look at how the Internet and the digital revolution are profoundly changing childhood and family dynamics, and offers solutions parents can use to successfully shepherd their children through the technological wilderness. Families today are embracing technology at the expense of face-to-face engagement. From cradle to college, our children are learning more from entertainment than education. Easy access to the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect childhood from the unsavory aspects of adult life. Parents, too, are immersed in the digital world far more deeply than they realize. Whether they are incessantly chatting or texting on their smartphones, or working in front of their computer screens, they are increasingly missing in action from their children's lives. Meanwhile, kids long for more meaningful relationships not only with each other but with the grown-ups in their lives. The benefits of having infinite information at our fingertips are extraordinary, and we are connected more than ever, but as the focus of family has turned to the glow of the screen and quick-twitch communications, parents often feel they are losing control of family life, and worse, the means for meaningful connection with the children they love. As clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair shows, these chronic distractions can have deep and lasting effects. Children don't need adults constantly, but they do need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, meaningful interactions with family and friends. Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical and consulting work, Steiner-Adair offers insight and advice that can help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence as they come up against the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms. With fresh eyes, an open mind and the will to act on what we see and learn, Steiner-Adair argues, we have the opportunity now to nourish our families and protect and prepare our children for meaningful life in a digital age that is here to stay.


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Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair takes an in-depth look at how the Internet and the digital revolution are profoundly changing childhood and family dynamics, and offers solutions parents can use to successfully shepherd their children through the technological wilderness. Families today are embracing technology at the expense of face-to-face engagement. From cra Clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair takes an in-depth look at how the Internet and the digital revolution are profoundly changing childhood and family dynamics, and offers solutions parents can use to successfully shepherd their children through the technological wilderness. Families today are embracing technology at the expense of face-to-face engagement. From cradle to college, our children are learning more from entertainment than education. Easy access to the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect childhood from the unsavory aspects of adult life. Parents, too, are immersed in the digital world far more deeply than they realize. Whether they are incessantly chatting or texting on their smartphones, or working in front of their computer screens, they are increasingly missing in action from their children's lives. Meanwhile, kids long for more meaningful relationships not only with each other but with the grown-ups in their lives. The benefits of having infinite information at our fingertips are extraordinary, and we are connected more than ever, but as the focus of family has turned to the glow of the screen and quick-twitch communications, parents often feel they are losing control of family life, and worse, the means for meaningful connection with the children they love. As clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair shows, these chronic distractions can have deep and lasting effects. Children don't need adults constantly, but they do need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, meaningful interactions with family and friends. Drawing on real-life stories from her clinical and consulting work, Steiner-Adair offers insight and advice that can help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence as they come up against the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms. With fresh eyes, an open mind and the will to act on what we see and learn, Steiner-Adair argues, we have the opportunity now to nourish our families and protect and prepare our children for meaningful life in a digital age that is here to stay.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Toki

    I picked up this book on a whim at the library yesterday because it's actually something I've been thinking about a lot lately--whether I spend too much time online overall, whether that has an impact on my daughters' behavior, whether I should cave and let my kids spend more time online. One thing that struck me in the introduction was a quote from a 7 year old: "My parents are always on their computers and on their cell phones. It's very, very frustrating and I get lonely inside. When my dad i I picked up this book on a whim at the library yesterday because it's actually something I've been thinking about a lot lately--whether I spend too much time online overall, whether that has an impact on my daughters' behavior, whether I should cave and let my kids spend more time online. One thing that struck me in the introduction was a quote from a 7 year old: "My parents are always on their computers and on their cell phones. It's very, very frustrating and I get lonely inside. When my dad is on the phone I have this conversation in my head: 'Hello! Remember me? Remember who I am? I am your daughter! You had me cuz you wanted me! Only it doesn't feel like that right now. Right now it feels like all--you--care--about--is your phone!' But I don't say that, because they'll get mad at me. It doesn't help. It feels worse. So it's just the conversation I have with myself." ...Uh huh. A 7 year old said that. Ok. That's one articulate 7 year old. Especially considering her parents are so disconnected. Then it goes on to talk about how researchers look at children's drawings for what they reveal about a child's environment or inner life. I was slightly reassured here, as a mother, because my kids always draw me reading books or knitting or planting flowers or baking cupcakes. Fuck yeah, parenting win. The author says that "children need to experience our being there for them, genuinely connected with them, at times when our presence matters to them. ...The message we communicate with our preoccupation and responsiveness to calls/email is: Everybody else matters more than you. Everything else matters more than you. Whatever the caller may say is more important than what you are telling me." I agree with this sentiment 100%. Put down the technology and engage. I get that. But holy hyperbole, batman. Every anecdote in this book is "the saddest thing ever,” every interview is “brimming with anxieties, insights, and stories of raising children surrounded by the silvery shine of so many electronic gadgets.” To me, so far anyway, most of the anecdotes deal with parents who don’t understand technology. There was actually a story in there of a father who was SHOCKED that his 7 year old downloaded an app on his iphone. The father never expected his son to know how to download an app. Really? And why does a 7 year old need an iphone? Well, his mother travels extensively for work. *eye roll* The author discusses getting calls from parents of preschoolers who were concerned about their screen play or online lives. Are you kidding me? Preschoolers’ online lives? Anyway, the author annoys me. She continually writes about this nostalgic, golden-age of childhood where family was a “private, protective realm for children...a safe place to be yourself,” and paints these pictures of kids teasing their siblings, debriefing their parents on their day, being comforted/corrected by their parents, learning valuable lessons about life and love and family all in the privacy of their homes. But NOW, in the digital age, kids “plug into screens” instead of connecting with their families. Please. This book gets a big “Whatever” from me. If you are a Luddite, then by all means, eat it up. Otherwise, save your time and money and use some common sense. Parental guidelines are there for a reason on all forms of media. Research things before you allow your children to consume them. Limit social media. There’s no reason for a 10 year old to have a facebook page. Ever heard that saying, “If everybody else jumps off a bridge…?” I'm not even going to finish this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    First, go get your pearls! Now, don your pearls. Once enpearled, you are prepared to read this book. On average, Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ph.D., and her ilk, intend for you to clutch them approximately three times per page. Clutch them! Gasp! The snowflakes! The special, special snowflakes are being defiled from earliest, most precious babyhood by the horrible spectre of technology! Now, having primed you for a bit of a deeper dive, I'll say there are a number of ways to criticize this book. I do First, go get your pearls! Now, don your pearls. Once enpearled, you are prepared to read this book. On average, Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ph.D., and her ilk, intend for you to clutch them approximately three times per page. Clutch them! Gasp! The snowflakes! The special, special snowflakes are being defiled from earliest, most precious babyhood by the horrible spectre of technology! Now, having primed you for a bit of a deeper dive, I'll say there are a number of ways to criticize this book. I don't actually know where to start-- intended audience, lack of data, implicit assumptions.... I mean, it's such a mishmash of lousy, wrong, lame, and baffling I really don't know where to start. Intended audience: pearl clutchers, luddites, and Moms Who Have No Real Problems So They Read Books Like This. While there seem to be two distinct factions of the Kids and Tech debate, I think it's vastly more likely that most reasonable people are not all or nothing and just want a few guidelines for developmentally appropriate technology integration in their lives. Yes there are moms who push out a baby and suddenly decide to live Off the Grid so that their Indigo Child is never sullied by gamma rays. And there are assholes who put their 10 months old in a crib with a portable DVD player and leave them their all day. But those people are few and far between, we hope. But Steiner-Adair writes as if most are the second and all long to be the first. A good parent would really never even turn on the evening news while fixing dinner if her 18 month old was around. A good parent would never let a four year old play iPad on a plane ride. A good parent would never lose control of a 14 year old with a cell phone because 14 year olds are inherently trustworthy if we have spent the first 13 years of their lives teaching them to trust us. And none of this takes into the account the reasonable woman who, frankly, doesn't have enough to do, so she reads this and wallows in minutia while agonizing between to G rated video games for her grade schooler. Lack of Data: There are acknowledgements and references, but the entire book is literally annecdata. Steiner-Adair introduces every age and stage and every technological minefield within that age and stage with what she thinks is an agonizing tale of woe. The five year old who is not "creative" because his parents allowed him too much TV during "the Magic Years." The 9 year old who encounters pornography too early (... yup! I'll come back to that!) because he's out of sight of his good parents and around kids whose parents don't care. The teen who is "bullied" because they lack the self-esteem, self-control, and determination to block an anonymous account that belittles and harrasses them. It's story after story after story of all the ways children and young adults can, will, do, and have used technology in terrible, awful, no good ways. It's not scientific so much as it's social science coffee klatching for contemporary Chicken Littles. Implicit Assumptions: my worldview is radically different from many. I acknowledge that. And Steiner-Adair drives it home when talking about the technology risks for tweens and early teens, specifically of premature sexualization, oversexualization, pornography, gorenography, sexting, public shaming and humiliation, all under the guise of "hookup" and "Friend With Benefits." She offers, as a cushion to what is clearly a screed, "Casual, recreational sex is okay for adults." Y'all, I do not think she means "casual, recreational" as in a married couple is bored when the power goes out. She means that it's totally okay for adults to have anonymous, pointless sex whenever they feel like it because... adults. And there will be no consequences because... adults. There is some magic age or stage at which a behavior that is mightily destructive in a child transmutes into an empowering booty call. Are you with me? Even if you're not really, you see what I'm getting at? Steiner-Adair can't implicate the culture and its values (or lack thereof) because she is a therapist and she needs for you to come up with the answers that are right for you. Because what is right for you is the only thing that is right. Except when it comes to technology for kids, which Steiner-Adair concludes... is okay as long as its use follows your family values. So here you have a book where there is story after story after story the implicates an entire culture in being narcissistic, craven, cruel, racist, misogynist, sex-crazed, and damaged because everybody has learned to just do whatever feels good to them. And her conclusion is to do what feels right for you. TL;DR: This is bullshit. Don't read it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    I'm so glad I read this book. Definitely prompted me to make a serious evaluation of our relationship with tech and the internet as a family and as individuals, and contains a trove of really, really important information for parents about how all of the tech in our children's lives affects them in their developmental years. In a nutshell - a few things I don't want to forget from this book: -Family is how a child becomes humanized. This requires engagement from parents; it's too easy to disconne I'm so glad I read this book. Definitely prompted me to make a serious evaluation of our relationship with tech and the internet as a family and as individuals, and contains a trove of really, really important information for parents about how all of the tech in our children's lives affects them in their developmental years. In a nutshell - a few things I don't want to forget from this book: -Family is how a child becomes humanized. This requires engagement from parents; it's too easy to disconnect from your kids using your cell phone, facebook, blogs, etc. -Empathy - developed over time by little ones through practicing positive communication, interacting with parents, siblings and friends in kind ways, being read to, etc. Doing these things over and over and over creates a strong network of neural connections in their brains. When they spend time playing on phones or other devices these vital neural networks get ignored, and then pruned by the brain (if you don't use it, it goes away). Yikes! -Texting - tween/teenage years are really important times for kids to be learning how to communicate with other human beings. When you talk with someone (this relates to empathy, too), you alter your tone or your words based on the body language or facial expressions of the person you are communicating with. None of this happens via text... -and lots of cautionary real-life stories which illustrate the importance of teaching your kids (again, over and over and over) how to responsibly interact on and use the tech in their lives so they don't end up suspended - or exposed to some of the terrible, terrible things that are frighteningly accessible to innocent naive children on the internet. Overall, would recommend this SO STRONGLY to parents of any age child. The book is divided into sections which address tech as related to newborns, toddlers, children, tweens, and teens. Incredibly researched and really readable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Terzah

    I've kept my twins away from "screens" for much of their lives. They watched no movies until they were four years old, they still watch no TV (we don't even have cable) and our house is a video-game-free zone. But my husband and I are both Internet fiends, and now that the kids are six and can read a little for themselves, the genie is out of the bottle on computers and mobile devices. We knew this time would come. And really we don't want to prohibit the Internet entirely. But the question is: w I've kept my twins away from "screens" for much of their lives. They watched no movies until they were four years old, they still watch no TV (we don't even have cable) and our house is a video-game-free zone. But my husband and I are both Internet fiends, and now that the kids are six and can read a little for themselves, the genie is out of the bottle on computers and mobile devices. We knew this time would come. And really we don't want to prohibit the Internet entirely. But the question is: what's the right balance? I was hoping this book would answer that question. It did answer it, in part. It took a long time to get the advice bits, and they were mostly contained in Chapter 8. It would be hard for parents who don't have a lot of spare time (and who has spare time?!) to read this whole book. And there are a lot of horror stories about elementary school cyber-bullying and other scary things kids do when unchecked online that did more to scare than inform me. Once you get to it, though, there is a lot of useful advice. The biggest insight I gained was that my own distracted use of technology (particularly the frequency with which I check Facebook and email rather than actually talking to my kids unencumbered by multi-tasking online) may be the biggest negative thing I'm doing--and that I need to limit my own time on the screen for the good of my family. So in the end, I do recommend this book. Skim to get to the useful parts.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I have become increasingly irritated while reading this book, and it took reading some of the comments of other readers on Goodreads to make me understand WHY I am so annoyed. Point 1: The author is nostalgic for "the good old days" where there was no TV and no technology for kids. In other words, the time SHE parented in. News flash--many of today's current parents grew up on media that was much more violent and full of gender stereotyped than even the pink-princess-saturated stuff we deal with I have become increasingly irritated while reading this book, and it took reading some of the comments of other readers on Goodreads to make me understand WHY I am so annoyed. Point 1: The author is nostalgic for "the good old days" where there was no TV and no technology for kids. In other words, the time SHE parented in. News flash--many of today's current parents grew up on media that was much more violent and full of gender stereotyped than even the pink-princess-saturated stuff we deal with today. I mean, I grew up on Smurfs (1 girl and 100 boys who started off evil and suddenly turned beautiful and blonde when she got nice), She-Ra (who may have kicked butt but wore a bustier and hot pants), and a whole bunch of ADULT-centered entertainment since there wasn't nearly enough kids' stuff to keep me entertained for as long as it took for my mom to get stuff done. So, basically she's going to alienate everyone of my generation by saying "you're destroying your kids by doing what you did as a child." Point 2: She's mentioning a whole bunch of "studies" and "research" without giving them any context. When Lisa Guernsey wrote her book about screen time, she actually discussed how the children were tested and what that showed about the studies. The mere mention of a research study is not enough to prove your point. Explain WHY this particular study means what it does and what the results were before you go touting it! Point 3: I reject the idea that all technology is bad. MODERATION in all things is key. Not so long ago everyone was up in arms that eggs had cholesterol and that made them bad. Nevermind the fact that eggs have a whole lot of good properties that, in moderation, are a part of a healthy diet! It's the same with technology--some guided, parent-driven use of technology could be great and some technology used to distract a small child is not necessarily bad in small doses. Point 4: The parents she describes as coming into her office horrified with themselves because their children are so focused on technology drive me nuts. They are so SHOCKED that their kids like technology when they themselves are using it and modelling how fun it can be! Well, duh! These parents seem to have no control of their media use themselves, so why should their kids have any control? This is a PARENTING problem, not an epidemic. This just makes me even more determined to find ways to educate parents better about what media use should be in the home. I'm going to try to plow through this book because it was a PW starred review and so many in the field are raving about it, but getting to the end is going to be an exercise in frustration. UPDATE: The second part of this book was much more balanced than the beginning. With all of the "TECH IS BAD" of the first few chapters, it was refreshing to see some easy-to-adopt solutions to common tech problems and some case studies that show that good family units include tech rules. WHY couldn't the whole book be like this? I think the author got caught up in "all these studies" and forgot to include moderation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    As I was reading this, I kept saying, "Nik - listen to this!! Can you believe it?!?!" This is just another book in a long line of books we've been reading which has convinced us that: 1. Our kids will not be having their own cell phones (smart or not) until they're really old. 2. We definitely are not bringing a TV into our house. 3. We will be talking to our kids bluntly about media use, media messages, dangers of sexting, pornography, etc. 4. We want to home school to keep our kids away from all t As I was reading this, I kept saying, "Nik - listen to this!! Can you believe it?!?!" This is just another book in a long line of books we've been reading which has convinced us that: 1. Our kids will not be having their own cell phones (smart or not) until they're really old. 2. We definitely are not bringing a TV into our house. 3. We will be talking to our kids bluntly about media use, media messages, dangers of sexting, pornography, etc. 4. We want to home school to keep our kids away from all this crazy media use in public schools. Also, since reading this book, we're trying much harder to make sure that we don't use the computer when the kids are around. I've started even leaving the computer off until after lunch (most days) so that I'm not tempted to try to get some computer work done while they're around. This has transformed our mornings to be much more productive (for me) and much calmer and happier (for all of us). And if this makes the author sound like a crazy, anti-technology author, she's really not. I found her approach to be quite balanced/nuanced. From p. 26, " I want us to be thoughtful about technology, more in charge of the way we integrate it into our lives. I want us to adapt technology to serve us well, rather than surrender ourselves unquestioningly to adapt to technology." Chris, Eric, anyone else who has kids or has kids in your life who you care about, you should read this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    This is a book about families first and technology second. It's a book I highly recommend to all parents, but especially parents of very young children. The heart of the book are chapters that discuss childhood development and how technology has/could fit into that age group: 1. The Brilliant Baby Brain: No Apps or Upgrades Needed 2. Mary Had a Little iPad: Ages 3-5 3. Fast-Forward Childhood, When to Push Pause, Delete and Play: Ages 6-10 4. Going, Going, Gone, the Age of Tweens: Ages 11-13 5. Teens, This is a book about families first and technology second. It's a book I highly recommend to all parents, but especially parents of very young children. The heart of the book are chapters that discuss childhood development and how technology has/could fit into that age group: 1. The Brilliant Baby Brain: No Apps or Upgrades Needed 2. Mary Had a Little iPad: Ages 3-5 3. Fast-Forward Childhood, When to Push Pause, Delete and Play: Ages 6-10 4. Going, Going, Gone, the Age of Tweens: Ages 11-13 5. Teens, Tech, Temptation and Trouble 6. Scary, Crazy and Clueless (what kids say about their parents) The middle school and teen chapters warrant some warning: the author uses extreme examples of technology abuses in these chapters. Thankfully they are tempered with coaching and encouragement to parents, but some of the examples really shocked me (having all boys, for example, I was not aware of how mean and catty girls can be online. Call me blissfully naive). The gist of the book is that technoloy is here to stay and that kids do need parental guidelines and boundaries. The best analogy I can give is the family car: no responsible parent would just give their kids the key to the family car without going through driver's training first. And, even after the kids have their license, the parents still set expectations and, if necessary, might restrict use of the car. It is not a car issue. It's a parenting issue. And so it goes with technology.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karel Baloun

    I love the consistent, persistent focus on how parents can change our own behavior, turn improve our children's lives and family situation. In so many ways she tells real stories showing how we can set a better example, scripts for communication, and techniques for staying emotionally grounded. As a Harvard trained actively practicing clinical psychologist, the author has tremendous real world practical experience. Unfortunately this means she has seen so much go wrong, especially when she gets c I love the consistent, persistent focus on how parents can change our own behavior, turn improve our children's lives and family situation. In so many ways she tells real stories showing how we can set a better example, scripts for communication, and techniques for staying emotionally grounded. As a Harvard trained actively practicing clinical psychologist, the author has tremendous real world practical experience. Unfortunately this means she has seen so much go wrong, especially when she gets called in. So in her attempts to prevent the worst, I feel she advises parents and schools to do too much. She idealizes a slower world with more wisdom about human connections and a slower speed of human interaction. I'm not sure that's what the modern world will in anyway become, nor what young people or millennials are aiming at. The advice at the end didn't feel as practical as I'd hoped to, but there is still much to take from it. Valuable book from parents and a strong perspective especially for families who really need a lot of changes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book really made me think. As a parent of a young daughter, I have been thinking a lot about the intersection between childhood and technology, and what it means to raise kids in the age of Iphones and Ipads and ever pervasive screens. I would recommend it to anyone interested in how tech can affect relationships, even if you don't have a child yourself. Especially interesting are the case studies the author draws from as a clinical therapist where she interviews kids and asks them how they This book really made me think. As a parent of a young daughter, I have been thinking a lot about the intersection between childhood and technology, and what it means to raise kids in the age of Iphones and Ipads and ever pervasive screens. I would recommend it to anyone interested in how tech can affect relationships, even if you don't have a child yourself. Especially interesting are the case studies the author draws from as a clinical therapist where she interviews kids and asks them how they feel about their parents' tech use. What I found most fascinating was how the author not only talked about the importance of limiting screen time for young children (something we have all heard), but she also talked about the importance of parents modeling their own tech use in responsible ways. What does it mean when you tell your child to stay off screens, but you are glued to your phone during dinner? How does this impact family connection? Fascinating stuff.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    Only about halfway into this, but feel compelled to write - what I was afraid was going to be stale warnings and reprimands about parents letting their kids live so much of their lives online is instead a fresh, thought-provoking, and realistic perspective. I'm riveted, and despite the fact that I'm writing this on my iPhone, I have already changed some of my behaviors and seen an immediate difference in my relationships. Only about halfway into this, but feel compelled to write - what I was afraid was going to be stale warnings and reprimands about parents letting their kids live so much of their lives online is instead a fresh, thought-provoking, and realistic perspective. I'm riveted, and despite the fact that I'm writing this on my iPhone, I have already changed some of my behaviors and seen an immediate difference in my relationships.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janssen

    Really fascinating and inspiring. I started making changes almost immediately. Warning that there is quite a lot of graphic language in the chapters about teens and sex and bullying online.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Lots of good info: Empathy is critical step in early childhood and lifetime. It takes time and practice to sink in. Maryanne Wolf writes extensively about the tech effect on cognitive processes in the young brain in her book "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain." She explains that the speed and superficiality of the tech experience have thinned the neural experiences that create empathy. In contrast, activities such as reading books or other substantive content creat Lots of good info: Empathy is critical step in early childhood and lifetime. It takes time and practice to sink in. Maryanne Wolf writes extensively about the tech effect on cognitive processes in the young brain in her book "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain." She explains that the speed and superficiality of the tech experience have thinned the neural experiences that create empathy. In contrast, activities such as reading books or other substantive content create complex arrays of neural pathways, the necessary rich weave of interconnectedness that develops empathy and allows it to deepen (51). Very little in life prepares parents for the dramatic shift from a me-centered life, or even a couple's we-centered life, to the baby-centered life. A crucial part of parenting in that first year or two is that you realize that if you are going to be a responsible and responsive parent, then it's all about the baby--you are going to come second, and that's a hard lesson. Tech aids and abets the impulse we have to avoid that level of responsibility and that level of self-sacrifice (73-74). Unlike speech and language development, for which the brain comes equipped with neural circuitry, there are no ready circuitries for reading. Those neural pathways and networks take years to develop, years of layered learning to create a circuit that moves from being a 'decoding machine' to being a circuit wired for comprehension (Maryann Wolf) 79 Research suggest that the process of tapping a screen or keypad and engaging with the screen may itself be rerouting brain development in ways that eliminate development of essential other neural connections your child needs to develop reading and higher-level thinking later 79 Parents are often unprepared for the hard years of early parenting when children are so uneven and unpredictable, the tasks are so repetitive, and each day requires endless patience and attentive guidance of the children 118 Children need to see that you can hold their anger and help them hold it and resolve it by soothing them and empathizing with them 122 Find opportunities to help your child learn how to self-regulate and do the inner work needed to adjust to circumstances in healthy ways, practicing choices that support her well-being. 123 As parents, we must find the social and emotional head space to calm ourselves and react to all of these minimoments in nuanced ways. In our everyday interactions w/our children we are teaching the same thing repeatedly--self-regulation and social and emotional skills--but we have to be able to focus on these tasks w/genuine interest and presence. 125 Page and screen are two different experiences for young children. A kid only imagines what his life experience allows, and watching violence is different from imagining violence 127.--Think fairytales

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    'The Big Disconnect' has much to recommend it. I whole heartedly encourage any parent or soon-to-be parent to read this book. In a very readable and thoughtful way, Ms. Steiner Adair outlines the impact that technology has on family life. The bulk of the book is chronological walk through, from birth to adolescences, discussing the impact, both negative and positive, that screens, the Internet and other technology can have child development. And parents and young adults are not exempt from scrut 'The Big Disconnect' has much to recommend it. I whole heartedly encourage any parent or soon-to-be parent to read this book. In a very readable and thoughtful way, Ms. Steiner Adair outlines the impact that technology has on family life. The bulk of the book is chronological walk through, from birth to adolescences, discussing the impact, both negative and positive, that screens, the Internet and other technology can have child development. And parents and young adults are not exempt from scrutiny either. She begins the book with a startling look at how parents' relationships to their gadgets can negatively impact family interactions and the psychological growth of their children. This seems to be her underlying argument, that adults acceptance of the pervasiveness of technology in modern life, and their growing addiction to it, has created a laissez-faire attitude about the constant influx of stimuli and information into even the youngest of lives (eighteen month olds playing with apps, ten year olds emailing each other porn??). And this attitude, this lack of filtering or even examination, is creating a dangerous environment for the most vulnerable among us. I would stress that this book is not another "don't let your kid watch too much TV" warning. As I stated earlier, she does outline several cases where educational programming, the use of computers in schools and other adult moderated interactions with the wide world of growing information access has been very helpful for children. She points out that programs like Skype can extend the family circle to far flung relatives in other states or countries. She also takes pains to point out that social media has helped troubled teenagers find help and support outside the family during crisis. She strikes an excellent balance and avoids writing a panicky, Chicken Little-like tract. Although some of her anecdotes from her private therapy practice are terrifying and disturbing, her overall tone is a positive one. She is encouraging and upbeat, reassuring the reader (particularly in the final chapters) that a balance can be struck, that we can integrate technology into our families. But we must do so by placing the emphasis in our daily lives on face-to-face interactions, valuing family time over screen time, respecting our children as individuals and creating space for what she calls "slow time no time always enough time". I would venture that anyone who reacts badly to her argument or advice in this book is in denial about their addiction to screens and needs to take a step back. How can a person be offended to be told that they should put off checking their email in favor of cuddling with their toddler? I have only two qualms with this book. The first may stem from my already limited interaction with media and technology. She always refers to the media-Internet-screen-game conglomerate as "tech". I found this short hand to be a bit disingenuous. And she had a few other trendy phrases that are perhaps passed around the Internet that I had never heard before that I found jarring. This is admittedly a personal style preference. The word "technology" would have worked just as well for me. I don't know if this is common parlance or something she coined, but it grated on me every time I saw it (which was all the time in this book). My second objection is a bit more serious. Her lack of footnotes and citations in the text of the book is hard for me to swallow. This is, after all, a controversial topic. Many people do not want to believe that they way they and their children interact with their gadgets is potentially harmful. If I come across a disturbing statistic, I want to know where it came from so I can judge the validity of the source. She does have a notes section, where all of her sources are citied, but it is organized by page only, not citations. This makes it more difficult to back up an argument, or investigate the research she is using. To see the words "Research indicates" in the text without an immediate clue as to what research or by whom weakens the argument. And having to comb through the sources by page number is at best annoying. I assume she chose to present her book in the way she did because it seems more accessible and readable. I would argue that people can choose to skip footnotes if they like, but for those of us who may be facing opposition from family and friends about the role technology plays in our lives, it is helpful to have all the information on hand, to be able to go to the source immediately. I would rather present people with a thorough and scholarly work to defend my position than another (seemingly) pop-psychology book on parenting. Nonetheless, "The Big Disconnect" is a thorough and scholarly work (even if it doesn't always look like one) and even the most iPhone or Blackberry addicted adult should put aside their defensiveness and read it. We have a habit in our culture of complaining that we don't have enough time, that our lives are too stressful and yet we avoid taking practical steps to slow ourselves down and reconnect with the people we love. Ms. Steiner-Adair through the accumulation of careful research and anecdotes presents us with flexible working solutions to calm our and our children's overstimulated brains and rediscover "slow time no time always enough time".

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I picked up this book after reading a reference to it in "The Wisdom of Amish Parenting." This is a great book that has really made me think long and hard about my own screen time as well as that of my kids. I've long been in the "less is more" camp, but this book made me think even more closely about not just the amount of time my kids spend on a screen, but the quality of that time. Also made me think a lot about what my kids might think when they see me using my phone: do they see me ignoring I picked up this book after reading a reference to it in "The Wisdom of Amish Parenting." This is a great book that has really made me think long and hard about my own screen time as well as that of my kids. I've long been in the "less is more" camp, but this book made me think even more closely about not just the amount of time my kids spend on a screen, but the quality of that time. Also made me think a lot about what my kids might think when they see me using my phone: do they see me ignoring them? I want them to know I value my relationship with them more than I value whatever I'm looking at on my phone. To me, this doesn't mean I can't ever let my kids see me on a screen, but if I'm using my phone and my child needs to say something to me, I can put my phone down and look her in the eye so she knows I'm listening. And even better, I can set aside times of the day that are totally tech-free (meal times, especially). The later chapters of the book focus on older kids and how destructive tech can be for them, mostly in terms of using phones for sexting and viewing porn. Man, that stuff is vicious and vile and so, so damaging. I didn't actually finish those last few chapters because I needed to return the book, but even skimming them kind of terrified me to have a teenager. It's so hard to protect your kids. One suggestion the author made that I really liked (and that teens probably hate!) is that if you give your teen a phone, it should be with the understanding that it is a privilege and it is NOT private property. Your teen should understand that it is like being loaned the family car - the privilege can be revoked for their safety if they don't follow the rules. Rules should include: no pornography, no sending messages or saying anything online that you wouldn't say in person, parents always have the phone's password, and parents have the right to look through the phone if they feel they need to for your safety.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book had a lot of solid information in it, and I appreciated the frequent referencing of studies and reports. It is fairly dry and straight-forward, but the author manages to keep it interesting. It certainly made me evaluate the role of technology in our lives. We are strict with the kids about using technology (we haven't owned a tv in four years), and I don't have Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest on my phone. My phone has the ability to "hide" apps so I can post pictures to Facebook and In This book had a lot of solid information in it, and I appreciated the frequent referencing of studies and reports. It is fairly dry and straight-forward, but the author manages to keep it interesting. It certainly made me evaluate the role of technology in our lives. We are strict with the kids about using technology (we haven't owned a tv in four years), and I don't have Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest on my phone. My phone has the ability to "hide" apps so I can post pictures to Facebook and Instagram without having access to them to check randomly throughout the day (I can see posts if I upload something via my camera app only). In the past two years I have made a very conscious effort to reduce the role of technology in our family's life. The book raises important concerns about what smartphones, tablets, computers, tvs, etc are doing to the family unit. I found the children's comments about their parents' technology use to be very telling. Children often feel ignored or think their parents are hypocrites. It was these comments that made me further reduce the amount of time I spend on my laptop when the kids are awake (generally less than an hour each day). The research shown on kids' technology usage was also insightful. While there are certainly educational benefits to technology, she makes a lot of valid points about the access kids' have to things like tablets and smartphones. They are becoming less social, showing more behavioral problems, and have much shorter attention spans. These concerns are very valid as her research shows. It is worth reading. Some of the information is stuff heard everywhere, but she offers practical solutions to dealing with the changing world. She admits that she struggles to find a balance too, and I found her honesty refreshing. The book isn't preachy at all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Fitzpatrick

    You might think that this book is about how children are being harmed by their obsession with their media devices. You'd be wrong. The children are being harmed by their PARENT'S obsession with THEIR media devices, which then enables children to get away with irresponsibly media use of their own. The Big Disconnect is written by a clinical psychologist, who illustrates her premise with stories from working with schools as well as patients in her private practice. Her premise is that too much tec You might think that this book is about how children are being harmed by their obsession with their media devices. You'd be wrong. The children are being harmed by their PARENT'S obsession with THEIR media devices, which then enables children to get away with irresponsibly media use of their own. The Big Disconnect is written by a clinical psychologist, who illustrates her premise with stories from working with schools as well as patients in her private practice. Her premise is that too much technology is bad but controlling technology is completely within the grasp of parents and within their responsibility. She gives concrete examples about how children are damaged by exposure to media that they don't understand: violent movies and video games, internet porn, texts from idiot friends. She focuses on three specific age groups: preschoolers, tweens, and teens. Each group needs parents to set limits on their media usage AND be there to provide context for the media that they are exposed too. My criticisms of this book are few. One is that although a lot of the content has to do with children dealing with hormones and pornography and attempts at dating, everything is in a heteronormative context. She offers two separate scripts for parents concerned about media over-sexualizing their teenagers: one for boys about respecting girls by not demanding blow jobs, and one for girls about how "friends with benefits" really just benefits the boys because like they would ever be willing to reciprocate ha ha ha. But in general I felt that her judgement was sound regarding the dangers of media and how to manage them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    I particularly liked the last chapter of this book, which focused on resilient families learning to navigate the digital age well. Most of the book is focused on the problems, which is important, and how families try to handle them. From my perspective, families - just like individuals - are in the midst of sorting out how to live well with these tools that can be alluring substitutes for relationships rather than one of the many ways we can nurture deeper relationships. As Catherine Steiner-Ada I particularly liked the last chapter of this book, which focused on resilient families learning to navigate the digital age well. Most of the book is focused on the problems, which is important, and how families try to handle them. From my perspective, families - just like individuals - are in the midst of sorting out how to live well with these tools that can be alluring substitutes for relationships rather than one of the many ways we can nurture deeper relationships. As Catherine Steiner-Adair points out, that discernment is made extra difficult by the reality that children are learning how to discern and parents guiding that learning and learning how to discern what works and what doesn't at the same time. There's no old body of wisdom to draw on, just parallel practices and principles - and neurological and behavioral research. I would recommend this book for parents with a comfortable reading level at college level or higher or for use in parental spiritual reading groups, for religious professionals working with families navigating social media and digital device discernment and practices, and for educators and family therapists. My hope is for future books with language and writing that is even more accessible.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Trudy Brasure

    This book encourages parents to think carefully about the role of devices and screen time in the family. Smart parents already recognize how much time families interact with screens instead of each other, and this book helps round out the broader picture of how the influx of digital connectivity has changed the social sphere for all of us and what it is doing to children of all ages. Real-life stories of how things can go wrong are eye-opening and serve as a reminder or warning to parents to cons This book encourages parents to think carefully about the role of devices and screen time in the family. Smart parents already recognize how much time families interact with screens instead of each other, and this book helps round out the broader picture of how the influx of digital connectivity has changed the social sphere for all of us and what it is doing to children of all ages. Real-life stories of how things can go wrong are eye-opening and serve as a reminder or warning to parents to consider the developmental maturity of their children in a wide-open Internet age. The overall message isn't to frighten us into choosing to bar our doors against new technology, but to comprehend the spectrum of effect it has on family life and school age children. The book is asking us to constantly and wisely choose what is best for our individual families. The biggest reminder I got from this book is to consciously choose to be present with those around you instead of impulsively staring at a screen. There are much more satisfying things to tune into in real life, and we model behavior for our children.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    A must read for parents and educators. I can attest to the horror stories mentioned in the book. It is amazing how much time school administrators must now spend on cyber bulling and other tech issues. Technology is great in many ways, but as the author states, there is a time and a place for it. As much as some of the reviewers believe it is common sense, they would be surprised at how many parents lack it. Even the younger teachers coming in lack it. As we get older, we all are nostalgic for o A must read for parents and educators. I can attest to the horror stories mentioned in the book. It is amazing how much time school administrators must now spend on cyber bulling and other tech issues. Technology is great in many ways, but as the author states, there is a time and a place for it. As much as some of the reviewers believe it is common sense, they would be surprised at how many parents lack it. Even the younger teachers coming in lack it. As we get older, we all are nostalgic for our past, but there is definitely a more pronounced disconnect today than ever before, and the pure meanness is just out of control. What is going to be difficult for the parents of today is to not succumb to the pressure of having an smart phone, tablet and PC for their child before the age of three and those parents who stick to their guns will have to prepare their child for the pressure to conform to their peers. Video games were not allowed in our house and TV was banned if grades fell. It was difficult, but the rewards were tremendous.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a profoundly important book for anyone who works with kids. Big takeaways: --Tech affects the brain development of young children. We are literally shaping our children's minds during those formative years. --Parents are modeling tech habits for our kids. If we are glued to our devices, don't expect our kids to act any differently. --Children are exposed to adult images and ideas at younger and younger ages. --Parents must be proactive in the way they use tech and the guidelines they set fo This is a profoundly important book for anyone who works with kids. Big takeaways: --Tech affects the brain development of young children. We are literally shaping our children's minds during those formative years. --Parents are modeling tech habits for our kids. If we are glued to our devices, don't expect our kids to act any differently. --Children are exposed to adult images and ideas at younger and younger ages. --Parents must be proactive in the way they use tech and the guidelines they set for the home. --Tech-free family interaction and play is essential for well-rounded families and confident kids. --Dialogue with kids about their tech habits and the expectations we have for them. Parents, not kids, own and control the devices. This book is eye-opening in terms of what tech is doing to our society and how it is affecting our children. The book doesn't present tech as a bad thing, but rather advocates mindful, proactive interaction with tech, allowing tech to serve us rather than control us.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maren

    If you have questions about what technology does to kids and families, and what problems can arise when it gets out of control, this book is a good, hard look at it. Technology is new, so this digital life we lead is new, so we need some new perspective and new tools as parents. But if you already know that, and already make conscious choices about how tech will play a role in your family, there won't be much new information for you found here. I confess I skimmed much of the book; I read the ma If you have questions about what technology does to kids and families, and what problems can arise when it gets out of control, this book is a good, hard look at it. Technology is new, so this digital life we lead is new, so we need some new perspective and new tools as parents. But if you already know that, and already make conscious choices about how tech will play a role in your family, there won't be much new information for you found here. I confess I skimmed much of the book; I read the main ideas but skipped a lot of the stories. I appreciated the ample section dedicated to pornography. Often there are emotional sides taken--yucky pornography is evil v. healthy sexuality is beautiful, when actually both those statements are true. But this book doesn't take sides (it is a false choice anyway) and deals with it from the perspective of tech putting it into the hands of younger and younger kids, what that does to them emotionally/psychologically (scientifically), and how to have your family's voice be louder than anything they might (WILL) encounter online.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marya

    I think Toki's review sums this up best with the line "Holy hyperbole, Batman!" The main drumbeat I hear in this book is "be afraid! Be very afraid!" as she rattles off more harrowing tales of parents threatened by their children exploring the world and (gasp!) growing up! without specific parental guidance. This really is a critique of culture (too much sex, too much violence, too much objectification of girls, too much celebration of aggression in boys, etc.) disguised as a critique of the ubi I think Toki's review sums this up best with the line "Holy hyperbole, Batman!" The main drumbeat I hear in this book is "be afraid! Be very afraid!" as she rattles off more harrowing tales of parents threatened by their children exploring the world and (gasp!) growing up! without specific parental guidance. This really is a critique of culture (too much sex, too much violence, too much objectification of girls, too much celebration of aggression in boys, etc.) disguised as a critique of the ubiquitous screens that broadcast that culture. Of course, culture isn't limited to ipad screens, which makes the critique less useful. One last thing: Most of the stories deal with parents affluent enough to be seeking a therapist for what their child witnesses on the internet instead of what their child actually experiences. Just sayin'.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sheri S.

    This is a very informative book about the impact of technology on children and teens. It discusses various age categories and how technology can be helpful and harmful to the developing brain. The book also addresses how technology, in many ways, is replacing the ability for children and teens to develop real, face-to-face relationships. Additionally, it provides the reader with the reminder that anything posted online is not private and the repercussions of anything posted can be long lasting ( This is a very informative book about the impact of technology on children and teens. It discusses various age categories and how technology can be helpful and harmful to the developing brain. The book also addresses how technology, in many ways, is replacing the ability for children and teens to develop real, face-to-face relationships. Additionally, it provides the reader with the reminder that anything posted online is not private and the repercussions of anything posted can be long lasting (especially if it's of a negative nature). The author encourages parents and caregivers to be involved in a childrens/teens use of technology and to monitor how much they use technology and for what purposes.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was a well researched, well thought out book with many citations and studies, which I really appreciated. I liked how the author broke the book into sections based on age, although I have a toddler, so I can only imagine what the tech landscape is going to look like in the next few years. I disagree with the reviews that said she in pining for the good old days, I think that she has highlighted some ways that the development of children has CHANGED over the years, and that ultimately we hav This was a well researched, well thought out book with many citations and studies, which I really appreciated. I liked how the author broke the book into sections based on age, although I have a toddler, so I can only imagine what the tech landscape is going to look like in the next few years. I disagree with the reviews that said she in pining for the good old days, I think that she has highlighted some ways that the development of children has CHANGED over the years, and that ultimately we have the control over the tech that is in our lives, both good and bad. All in all, well balanced, and I recommend for any parent, whether you think your family struggles with tech or not.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    My son's headmaster made this book required reading for his teachers, and then held a book club meeting for parents who wished to read it. This is one of the many things I love about this school. If you are constantly attached to your phone, you're going to hate this. If your kids play video games or watch TV all day, you'll probably not like it, either. But that's precisely the point. No parent wants to realize too late what it meant to your child to sit across the table from their parent and th My son's headmaster made this book required reading for his teachers, and then held a book club meeting for parents who wished to read it. This is one of the many things I love about this school. If you are constantly attached to your phone, you're going to hate this. If your kids play video games or watch TV all day, you'll probably not like it, either. But that's precisely the point. No parent wants to realize too late what it meant to your child to sit across the table from their parent and their lap top screen is up and there's no eye contact at all. I found this to be one of the better parenting books out there and encourage you to read it and take from what what you will.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Anderson

    I enjoyed reading this. I suppose that if you begin reading this book with your opinions already fixed about technology and kids, you mind not change your mind. But, if you take into account that the author is a therapist who sees the ultimate worst-case scenarios with kids and tech, I think it's an interesting read. Even if some of the examples are unrelatable, it would seem that technoference is damaging to kids. Is technology evil? Is it ruining childhood? No, but I think we can admit it's ch I enjoyed reading this. I suppose that if you begin reading this book with your opinions already fixed about technology and kids, you mind not change your mind. But, if you take into account that the author is a therapist who sees the ultimate worst-case scenarios with kids and tech, I think it's an interesting read. Even if some of the examples are unrelatable, it would seem that technoference is damaging to kids. Is technology evil? Is it ruining childhood? No, but I think we can admit it's changing childhood, and we need to be aware of how.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre

    An important read for any parent or educator on how behavior is greatly influenced by not only a child's use of electronics, but yours as well. An important read for any parent or educator on how behavior is greatly influenced by not only a child's use of electronics, but yours as well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Interesting, but by the end I wasn't sure why I was reading this book, since I already agreed with everything she said. It got a bit repetitive, but an important topic nonetheless. Interesting, but by the end I wasn't sure why I was reading this book, since I already agreed with everything she said. It got a bit repetitive, but an important topic nonetheless.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    The author, a child psychologist, carefully documents how overuse of tech interferes with the place of family in childhood social and emotional development, natural brain development, and the activities that foster imagination and attention. She is not anti-tech but sees the very real consequences in her clinical practices of family disruption, bullying (and thoughtless acts by children that have real consequences), low self esteem, and more. The book lays out the good and bad of technology by a The author, a child psychologist, carefully documents how overuse of tech interferes with the place of family in childhood social and emotional development, natural brain development, and the activities that foster imagination and attention. She is not anti-tech but sees the very real consequences in her clinical practices of family disruption, bullying (and thoughtless acts by children that have real consequences), low self esteem, and more. The book lays out the good and bad of technology by age group—infant/toddler, preschool, early elementary, tweens, teens. This makes some of the info repetitive BUT the stories she tells of real children getting in way over their heads or suffering trauma or lacking empathy or having warped ideas of friendship and dating relationships are worth the read. If you are still parenting, take the time to read. If you have teens, read it with them and work with them to set good family norms. As for the rest of us, know that what parents face now because of tech is incredibly complex and difficult to manage...!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    The author tends to lean toward moral panic a bit too often, and she bloviates a bit at the end, but overall, a book most parents should probably consider reading for a bit of perspective.

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