The rate of change in our digital world confounds.
Published in 2013, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, cites research from 2010, now over eight years old. Eight years in digital time is ancient history.
The stories and key findings that the authors share with us, though, are relevant today.
Our jokes continue about being “addicted” to our email, Facebook and YouTube videos.
A 2010 Kaiser Family report showed that children between the ages of eight to eighteen spent 7.5 hours a day on their electronic devices seven days a week. How much do you think that has increased in the last eight years?
With a ping or a ding we respond like indentured servants to our electronic devices, turning away from the people in our presence.
Most caring people wouldn’t knowingly give children addictive substances. What are we doing as we hand electronic devices to our children, devices that we describe as addictive?
The data shows we are checking out of family time. As parents, as the leaders of our families what are we modeling as we check our phones during dinner, as we ignore or dismiss our children’s requests for connection, as we spend family time on our computers?
Are we communicating that whoever or whatever, on the other end of our electronic devices, is more important than our children?
Our children, from birth, wait to connect to loving, nourishing, life-long relationships.
Tech cannot match a loving relationship. Unfortunately, without vigilance, tech can replace our relationships.
Will we say at the end of our lives, “I wish I had spent more time on my phone.”
If you are concerned about how technology is affecting the development of children in your life–be it as a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, teacher, doctor, babysitter, neighbor–The Big Disconnect is an important book for you.
Chapters are broken into age groupings: birth to three, three to five, six to ten, eleven to thirteen, thirteen to eighteen.
The last chapter is dedicated to “the sustainable family: turning tech into an ally for closeness, creativity and community”.
Definitely worth the read, don’t you think?
The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age
Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D. with Teresa H. Barker