The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair [Book Summary – Review]

The rise of digitalization has basically transformed the world. The pervasiveness of tablets and smartphones has extremely fixed the web into our day-to-day lives – we write messages to our friends through WhatsApp, we transmit favorite movies and music on the Internet, and we upload our vacation pictures on Facebook. However, the emergence of social and digital media does not just transform us, it transforms our children as well and the way we train them. In a nutshell, it transforms parenthood.

What extent of exposure to digital media is suitable for a kid? How do we protect our kids from violence-glorifying or sexually explicit content? Also, what to do at times when our kids face bad people on Facebook?

Throughout these book chapters, you’ll discover the dangers that raising children in this online era involves and, importantly, how to defend your children well from cyber risks.

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Chapter 1 – Extreme subjection to the digital environment disrupts a child’s growth.

When you enter a chat platform, a social media website, or message board, you’ve most likely been abused by someone you do not know. These digital communications aren’t worthless: they affect our social interactions,  particularly children’s.

Kids build empathy by mingling with others. As stated by Dan Siegel a psychiatrist, kids do not have empathy at the time they are born: they build while growing. They form social abilities and grasp to know one another’s feelings as they play, quarrel, and find friends.

Using much time online interrupts this process. Also, if children spare a lot of time for the digital environment, this may really reduce their ability to empathize.

Some scholars at Stanford conducted more than 70 research on this situation with university pupils. They conducted a structured analysis of their research according to standard tests for empathy and discovered that, between the years 1979 – 2009, among US university pupils, empathy dropped by 40%.

The drop was mainly big for the past 10 years of the period of time, and the tech was identified as an actual reason.

Too much subjection to the digital environment does not just make individuals less empathetic. Also, the pace of this digital environment makes it difficult for kids to focus.

The family foundation of Kaiser did an examination of young people in the year 2016 and discovered that the teenagers doing their assignments using a computer were less concentrated on the assignment. As a matter of fact, they used a minimum of ⅔ of their energy doing a totally different thing.

The digital environment has a huge effect on kids’ growth. It is getting difficult for kids to concentrate on school work, and the vulgar remarks you’ve noticed online are possibly written by teenagers with a lack of empathy.

Chapter 2 – Toddlers struggle when mothers and fathers are disturbed by gadgets.

Anyone that is a new parent can say to you that looking into the eyes of their baby or hearing their babies’ sound initially is magical. Therefore, what occurs when mothers and fathers are really disturbed by mobile phones to give adequate attention to their babies? This might have terrible impacts on their growth.

Babies require so much sensory concentration from mothers and fathers. Nevertheless, that’s how babies grow, both intellect- and emotion-wise.

Sensory communication is essentially about mirroring, which is the process where a mother or father looks at her or his baby, laughs, and smiles, letting the baby copy what she is doing and grasp the things she implies.

At UC, a team of researchers discovered that when a mother or father completely interacts with her or his kid, this arouses the areas of the kid’s brain, related to intangible thinking and language.

Babies don’t receive the exact advantages of educational television programs. The digital environment provides babies and teenagers so many visual stimulations; however, it doesn’t stimulate the entire neurological parts needed to improve abilities of reading and speaking.

Also, children struggle at the times their mothers or fathers use lots of time with gadgets.

A researcher at U of Washington known as Patricia Kuhl discovered that babies suffer lots of hardship when they notice an emotionless look on the faces of their parents. Formerly, babies would read that kind of face as an indication of depression; nowadays, it occurs to look like the exact same face someone has while looking at a device. Therefore, toddlers who usually observe their mothers or fathers with such faces growing up with an emotionally unconfident surrounding.

Also, when they’re ultimately set for preschool following their initial years of staying at the house, fresh technology issues is waiting for them.

Chapter 3 – Preschoolers have to interact with one another to form critical social abilities.

Your best game in childhood? Dressing up? Hide & Seek? Video games may let kids dress up avatars with dresses and accessories; however, is this the same?

Most likely not. As a matter of fact, digital entertainment appears to cause preschoolers to be less artistic and playful generally.

Many preschool instructors say that kids now only wait to get instruction or copy deeds from video games rather than interacting with one other. They’ve observed two main trends: now, kids are less inventive now, and they are less concerned about playing.

Kids are beginning to choose easier and more iterative games, such as colliding objects repeatedly. They spare less time for difficult, imaginative games such as tea times or looking for treasure that is hidden.

Preschoolers are less determined about playing as well. Games such as building ways to marble with bridges, chutes, and towers are not that common again, as kids don’t possess the focus width for these anymore.

It’s destructive to kids if they interact less since they need to mingle with one another to form critical social abilities.

Chip Wood, an educator, presented various studies in his book Yardsticks showing that the main aspect for a child’s success and joy is a favorable interaction with his or her teacher as well are classmates.

When kids are buried in writing and reading and disheartened from social life, they are worse off for their lives. They don’t do as great in initial school as the other children who are told to interact and build their EQ during preschool.

Children’s social abilities can only be built by social interactions: games cannot substitute play in the real world. The kids who are offered time to interact are at an advantage in the long run.

Chapter 4 – As children become older, they require conversation from destructive media.

You most likely recall a few occurrences that you were shown pictures you weren’t that mature sufficiently for yet. Probably, the It clown or Freddy Krueger gave you bad dreams or caused you not to be able to sleep off for some time.

Nowadays, kids are at a higher possibility of this occurring. The internet allows it very easy for creepy creatures or individuals to come into their world.

For instance, kids can be disturbed by harmful or insulting online communications. The writer had a client at the age of 10 named Trevor, who began getting weird emails from a mail he wasn’t conversant with. Those emails had complete sexual abuse he didn’t have knowledge of.

An investigation showed that the perpetrator was some girl at the age of 10 that Trevor had made a joke of one time. She opened a mail address just to bother him as payback, and Trevor experienced stress and breakdown for a long time.

Also, kids have to be safe from websites and news that support discriminatory stereotypes in terms of gender and race.

In the author’s 2006 book, titled Filled with Ourselves, she shows studies demonstrating that video games, as well as TV, make kids as little as three years old have bad views of anybody who’s overweight. Also, the majority of the digital media that aims at girls concentrate on beauty and fashion, strengthening the notion that beauty offers them value.

Scholars Harrison and Martins conducted research in the year 2007 on the impacts of discriminatory stereotyping in digital games. They discovered that, after playing the game, white-skinned males have more self-esteem, while girls, as well as males with other skin colors, perceived bad after playing the game as a result of the bad means men of other skin colors and women are portrayed.

Chapter 5 – Adolescence can get more difficult with the internet and social media.

When you were still a child, did you see yourself naked around the campus in your nightmare? All because of social media, this nightmare may turn into a real thing now. Digital media may worsen childrens’ emotional vulnerability by publicly revealing them in manners they have no control over.

An example of such a situation, 3 girls that are 11 years of age had their meals with 3 boys at the age of 11, and a boy took a picture of them. At that point, girls did not complain; however, that boy cropped their heads and pasted onto a different image of 3 naked girls and spread the new photo online. It went viral in the school, the girls felt terrible and embarrassed because of that.

Also, the internet makes sexual problems harder for young people. It was stated on a Pew online poll that was conducted in 2012, teenagers usually play online games that are not suitable for their ages. As a matter of fact, 50% of males and 14% of females called an adult-only video game best-loved.

Therefore, teenagers are shown extremely sexualized content during a period at the times they are still really vulnerable, which might make them assume that unusual acts such as abusive fetishes are okay.

The online world has further means of making sexuality harder. For instance, consider the story of Alexa who was 13 years old, who once randomly phoned an out-of-mind acquaintance and had an intense discussion with him.

Immediately after that, Alexa started getting sexualized written messages. That person had put her phone number online as payback, together with a dirty image and message. The trial made Alexa obtain another phone finally.

Also, the issues don’t stop when kids completely grow up, either. As kids grow into youngsters, the web can disturb their notions about sex even more.

Chapter 6 – Technology complicates for some teens to have healthy relationships and personas.

Have you ever lied regarding your sexual affairs to get along with people? Teenagers need acceptance from mates, and currently, social media gives them the opportunity to overdo their identities.

Online, it is very simple to form a different identity for yourself online; however, digital identities can be destructive to people that are young.

Think of the illustration of 3 high school peers who contacted each other through the Internet. Jill liked to write when talking about anything that is really individual.

For 2 years, Jill went through unstable intercourse with a guy she had encountered during summer and usually asked for guidance from her 2 peers, who helped her. But, after Jill uploaded an image of the boy on Facebook, these 2 friends immediately discovered that the boyfriend was not actually real. Jill had lied about the entire thing.

The lie eventually cost Jill her dearest friendships. After they found out that she was lying to them, they didn’t want to be her friends again.

Also, chatting as well as texting make relationships difficult for young people. We’ve realized that, usually, online communications don’t have empathy, and at times we talk about online interactions between youngsters that may make them decrease their sexuality.

Nora, a young person at 15 years old, had a terrible time when she started to like a classmate known as Mike. During a message, Mike questioned her whether she wants to be with him to make her do oral sex.

At times teenagers are exposed to belittling remarks like these, this obstructs their skills to form good interactions. The digital environment raises their subjection to intercourses with no empathy.

Chapter 7 – Parents need to earn the trust of their kids so that their kids can tell them about the issues with the digital environment.

Recall how humiliating your mother or father was while you were still a teenager? Perhaps, they had a conflict with an instructor or attempted to make friends with your hidden crush. Regardless of the cause, kids usually would like their issues to stay in themselves.

However, it’s significant that mothers and fathers gain the trust of their kids, which is vital in defending them from online risk. The only time children discuss with their mothers and fathers about their digital issue is if they think they may depend on their parents.

Therefore, the way to develop that type of trust? You need to regard the exact rules you wish them to regard.

Consider an illustration of a dad who brings his 2 daughters to the academy daily. He usually goes above the pace restriction and texts while he is driving most time. Also, whenever the scared daughters oppose, he hits them to keep quiet.

That kind of action just destabilizes reliability. If the dad does not abide by the principles about messaging and driving, the daughters would not obey those rules too. They’ll most likely just copy what he does.

Also, parents need to avoid reacting excessively at times their kids explain to them digital issues. Children recede from mothers and fathers if they would be scared that they will become angry or penalize. Worst-case scenario, that could make hinder them from voicing out regarding online stalkers, pornography, or bullying.

For instance, the writer’s customer who was at the age of 15 would not like to reveal to his father the email conversation between him and his instructor regarding courses. He was aware that when his dad sees the teacher does not reply immediately, his dad would make a call himself.

When mothers and fathers get assertive like this, this shakes the trust of kids. Hence, be open with children. The key thing to do is to be calm, approachable, and trustworthy.

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair Book Review

Children are at an advantage with no digital environment until they get to the age of 5 at minimum. It’s in their best interest to concentrate on real interactions and social relations, in order for them to build significant emotional abilities. While growing up, parents have to keep them from improper pictures and digital bullies by keeping good intercourse in order for their kids to feel comfortable speaking up about their issues. Technology gives children many great opportunities; however, it is significant to utilize it well and wisely.

While going to nature, drop your devices at home.

At times, leave technology back and have a break without it. Go with your children to a camp or swimming in the sea. Leave your tech devices for some time– it’ll be beneficial for you all.

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Savaş Ateş

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