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Anxiety and Technology Among Teenagers A Family Connection

Steiner-Adair, Catherine, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the
Digital Age New York: Harper, 2013
Catherine Steiner-Adair a clinical psychologist and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard
Medical School wrote this book.
The book holds much information for families to help deal with parenting children and teens surrounding
technology. In addition, however, for our purposes, there is substantial information and opinion regarding
teens and the use of technology.
Chapter 6 is devoted to adolescent issues specifically. The author gives various anecdotal stories
surrounding issues of social media use and abuse. She offers some interesting thoughts...
"At a time when developmentally they [teens] are wired for exploration, experimentation and self-discovery
in the context of human relationship, teens' relationship with tech has itself become the context for all else,
the experiential platform on which life plays out. What nature intended to be an embodied experience of
one's self in relation to others - face-to-face, sensorily rich and physically, emotionally, sexually and even
spiritually textured- is now a mediated experience." (227)
"Tech offers a round-the-clock stage for teen drama...Texting, video chat, sexting and social media have
created a streaming soap opera for teens, a scintillating reality-show subculture in which everyone gets to
play both celebrity and paparazzi"(229)
"The steady patter of texts can be a reassuring connection to the teen's inner circle and social world.....but
the steady patter of reassuring texts can also be a drumbeat of obligation many teens find exhausting."
"The very things that texting eliminates, making it easier, are the lessons teens need to learn: how to calm
yourself, express yourself clearly and respectfully, understand your impact on the other with empathy and
not just with anger, read their physical and emotional cues as you listen to their side of it , and together
figure out how to go forward, each accountable for your own behaviour and its effect on the other." (235)
"Tech often amplifies gender differences in communication styles." (236)
"The net effect of texting culture is that teens silence themselves in the very relationships that offer
potential for the most critical social and emotional learning of the age. Literally and metaphorically the
mute button is on."
She also offers a set of benchmarks for families to strive for to adapt technology in a healthy way. In terms
of this report, I think we could substitute schools and teachers where families are mentioned here...
"A sustainable family nourishes meaningful connection and thoughtful conversation that shares feelings,
values, expectations and optimism" (320) - Interesting - how many school discussion based lessons have
been replaced with web-based research and computer-lab time??/
"Sustainable families provide experiences off-line in which children can experience and cultivate an inner
life, solitude and connection to nature." (334)
"In the sustainable family, members understand the uniqueness of each person, encourage independence
and individual interests, and foster their independence in the context of family." (324)