New Nonfiction: The Big Disconnect – Catherine Steiner-Adair

We’re now at least a couple decades into a global experiment in living digitally and the data on how it’s affecting us is starting to come in. For instance, studies are starting to show that people who read hang on to cognitive abilities longer than people who spend time more passively in front of screens. Along with the clear-cut advantages that accompany digital life, preliminary studies are showing that a life in front of screens is not only changing the way children learn, it’s changing the way they think—and not necessarily for the better. So how do we make smart choices about our lives in front of screens—and how to make wise choices for our children?

Catherine Steiner-Adair’s is a clinical psychologist in practice with small children. Her findings cut to the core of contemporary family life. The Big Disconnect outlines issues and offers solutions for parents who want to raise well rounded, empathetic children—children capable of fully enjoying life and its challenges.

William Powers, himself the author of a remarkable meditation on technology, Hamlet’s Blackberry, writes of this book: “Finally, a book that comprehensively answers the question parents everywhere have been struggling with: How to raise happy, creative, caring kids in the age of screens? Drawing on her deep professional experience, Catherine Steiner-Adair lays out exactly how technology is changing childhood and family life, and what we parents can do to make our kids’ journey to adulthood healthy and human. The Big Disconnect is not just a smart book, it’s a very, very wise one.”

Advance reviews are good and I can’t imagine anything other than strong, ongoing publicity starting with The Diane Rehm Show at on sale.

In a book that should be required reading for all parents, Steiner-Adair examines the extraordinarily negative impact of the digital revolution on parents and children. . . . Her deepest concern lies with parents who, because of their use of technology (smart phones, iPads and 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 this 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.’ …Throughout this highly readable study, Steiner-Adair offers sound and sympathetic advice regarding this unprecedented ‘revolution in the living room.’”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age (9780062082428) by Catherine Steiner-Adair. $26.99 hardcover. 8/13/13 on sale.