catherine steiner-adair, ed.d with teresa barker, wrote one of the wall street journal's best nonfiction books of 2013. the big disconnect is about technology - texting, tweeting, screens of all sorts - and how it's changing our children and families. the first chapter is an overview, and the rest is sorted by age group. the final chapter helps parents coach children as they grow into our screen-full world.
here are the top 5 reasons to read this book:
1. the first surprise was the section: what children see: parents missing in action. ah! children on screens is only half the story. are the adults available? or are they texting/talking/blogging/working on a device? (excuse me while i stop blogging to play scrabble.)
2. families with much older and younger siblings have a special challenge. steiner-adair tells a story about a family with children of various ages trying to protect the little ones, and finding their 7-year-old playing grand theft auto on a phone in the car. It's an endless challenge, this role of IT parent in the digital age. (p. 35)
3. here's another quote from the same page where the author discusses how she hears from parents worried about their children, and teachers, too: Teachers share their concerns about the subtle but pervasive ways they see tech impinging on the school experience: four-year-olds who want to imitate computer games on the playground and hesitate to play with blocks or peruse books: elementary school children who struggle to problem-solve and who depend on adults to help them with the simplest tasks, high school students who struggle with any assignment requiring more than shallow attention and prefer a virtual tour of a museum to a field trip to see the real thing.
4. the ages and stages chapters are clear and full of examples of technology's impact on kids. in particular the teen section was powerful. teens are spontaneous. one story is about some guys whose buddy was hurt by a girl. they went to the school music room and wrote a song, as heartbroken musicians always have, but they used the girl's name and school. then uploaded it. fast-forward to the girl's parents contacting lawyers. note that this part is r rated, with a discussion of "sexting" and "friends with benefits".
5. the last chapter, the sustainable family, deserves a separate post. it's useful and positive, with concrete ideas for parents.
the big disconnect is about using technology in a healthy way.
joy to you.