The Big Disconnect
Do your kids a favor and read this book.
First it was TV, then it was video games that were poised to transform each new generation of children into shallow, superficial brutes. Now we’ve added the Internet – a pervasive minefield of unrestricted content that makes those old threats seem downright quaint.Skip to next paragraph
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Many of us have reacted by sticking our heads in the sand and hoping: Our kids would turn out fine; our daughters were not worshipping at the altar of thinness; a little “gorenography” (violent porn) wouldn’t sabotage our sons’ healthy sexual development.
In The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, author Catherine Steiner-Adair yanks our brains from sandy oblivion and proves it’s our duty as parents not just to keep our eyes open, but to ensure our children go through the slow, often difficult developmental steps crucial to becoming healthy, well-adjusted, authentic adults.
Do your kids a favor and read this important book. Steiner-Adair, a Boston-area clinical psychologist, media consultant, and former high-school counselor, draws from myriad real-life examples of how tech has disrupted, even debilitated, children’s lives. Keeping your head in the sand, you’ll discover, is nothing short of neglect.
Think your child is somehow protected? In clear, gentle prose, Steiner-Adair firmly shoots down every excuse parents give for claiming to be irrelevant to their child’s screen life.
You’ve installed parental controls on her TV? "Gossip Girl" is teaching her that snarky is the norm for girls, and looks matter more than anything. You refuse to buy violent video games? Your son is playing them at his friend’s house. Your kids don’t even have a smartphone? They’re exposed to violence and sex on someone else’s. They open emails only from trusted friends? Those young friends might not realize what they’re passing along, like that explicit YouTube video sent by a 5th-grade boy to a female classmate, which caused the girl months of debilitating anxiety.
If all this worry over the effects of TV and gaming sounds familiar – after all, we watched violent cartoons and turned out all right – Steiner-Adair reminds us: In the 1960s and 70s, TVs didn’t follow us out the door.
Children as young as six arrive in her office, shaken by what they’ve seen: violent TV news in airport waiting areas; mean messages posted on Facebook; disturbing sexual images accidentally opened on an iPhone. The “magic of the iPad” has replaced the magic of the playground. Today’s children, says Steiner-Adair, are “in over their heads and they need adult help.”