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

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

Catherine Steiner-Adair, with Teresa H. Barker. Harper, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-208242-8

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%E2%80%99s, 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 %E2%80%9Cfollow the consensus of expert medical, scientific, psychological, and other child development opinion to leave tech out of your baby%E2%80%99s life for the first twenty-four months.%E2%80%9D She sounds the alarm consistently throughout her book. Preschool-age children have told her %E2%80%9Chow disheartening it is to have to vie for their parent%E2%80%99s attention and often come in second%E2%80%9D to technology. She ties the %E2%80%9Cdramatic rise%E2%80%9D in ADD/ADHD diagnoses to the %E2%80%9Cnegative effects of media and screen play on children%E2%80%99s self-regulation, attention, aggressive behaviors, sleep, and play patterns.%E2%80%9D In addition to discussing examples of cyberbullying, she explores tweens and teens%E2%80%99 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 %E2%80%9Crevolution in the living room.%E2%80%9D Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (Aug.)