Guest Blogger Book Review – The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age

This book, by Catherine Steiner-Adair and Teresa H. Barker, is a must read for any person who has felt a tug of discomfort when witnessing the flood of technology tools, apps, games, and devices in their personal, family, or professional lives.  Readable and accessible, with scientific and research-backed information about child development and brain development, Steiner-Adair’s book offers a bold look at how technology, when not tempered by informed choice for consumption, can both hamper and hinder family and personal relationships.

With particular attention paid to the aspects of addictive behavior and technology use, Steiner-Adair explains that the neurotransmitter dopamine is heightened when using tech devices, resulting in increased stimulation to the brain’s pleasure centers.  As dopamine is released, these pleasure centers are stimulated, and the behavior(s) associated with increased desire for consumption are quickly reinforced.  More dopamine, more pleasure, more stimulation, more tech use; it becomes a cycle that quickly bears a resemblance to addiction.

In my work with students with or without a diagnosis of ADHD, I question how young minds might self-monitor their consumption of technology.  Given a well-documented proclivity towards addictive patterns of behavior, the ADHD individual may have a particularly challenging time recognizing healthy levels of tech use.  We as parents, teachers, and coaches are challenged by Steiner-Adair to make informed choices for the amount and duration of our consumption of technology.  I infer, upon reading this book, that ADHD individuals, already challenged in their social, academic, and professional relationships, may be particularly at risk for increased addictive behaviors.

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, is a book I will read and re-read as a part of my professional and personal libraries.  I applaud Steiner-Adair’s challenge for individuals and families living in a technology-driven society to examine how to balance their technology diets.  This book has held up a huge mirror for my own reflection on my use of technology, and as a result, I am a more cautious consumer in my personal, family, and professional circles.

Sojourn Life Coaching
Mary E. Harwood, M.Ed., RPP
Member: ICF, APTA, CHADD