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

Booklist Reviews 2013 May #2
Parents face the paradox of the faster, broader communication and access to information that technology brings leading to disconnection in the family as its members communicate less often face-to-face. Clinical psychologist and family therapist Steiner-Adair explores the changes in the dynamics of family life when there are fewer conversations around the dinner table, fewer play dates with children actually physically playing together, and fewer pretend games. Drawing on therapy sessions and interviews with parents, children, and educators, Steiner-Adair reports some children feeling neglected by parents enthralled by their cell phones or computers and parents feeling left out of their children's lives as they engage electronically with friends, games, and other distractions. Beyond any fears of the neurological threats of technology, Steiner-Adair points to the emotional costs of being worn down by constant communication and hasty responses and from being ignored by others as they communicate via electronic devices. She offers advice on how to develop a "sustainable family" that recognizes how pervasive technology is but focuses on the need to develop emotional connections between parents and children. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #2
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. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 March #1

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.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #4

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.)

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