It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. (Just had to say that!) I’ve lived much of my life with very little technology and now use LOTS of technology. I absolutely love the access to information and worldwide connections that can be made with technology. Yet I also worry about the effects of technology on us and our families. Smartphones and tablets in particular seem to have a way of stealing time and important interaction from families and friends.
Posts about Being Present for Family and Friends
I’ve worried about this before. I have posts here called “Less Screen Time/More Family- and Outdoor Time” and “Are You Really Present for Your Family and Friends?” (Be sure to watch the video embedded in that post!)
I’ve taken to heart the post at the Atlantic called “The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World” with this important message: “Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.” I try to unplug and put away my iPhone and iPad when I’m with family. I want my granddaughter to develop empathy … and to always know she’s much more important than my devices. I want my husband and kids/kids-in-law to know they mean much more to me than my devices, too.
Even with precautions, it’s too easy to find myself distracted by what I was doing earlier, to find myself not totally present. It’s a delicate balance that we have to deal with whenever we’re using the Internet and what almost seems to bring us into another reality.
More about Smartphones and Parenting
An article (“Don’t Text While Parenting–It Will make You Cranky”) making the rounds on Facebook gives more disturbing information. It says:
“A new study from Boston Medical Center reveals that parents who get absorbed by email, games or other apps have more negative interactions with their children, making them feel like they’re competing for attention with their parents’ gadgets.”
The article has some important suggestions:
“…setting aside devices during specific times, such as meal, story and bed times, can help to minimize any potentially distracting effects that smartphones have on parent-child interactions. Using the phone, says Swanson, “is not recommended at the dinner table — a time that we think is valuable to fostering cohesion.”
“Also, recognizing that responding to email or scanning Facebook while your kids are waiting or attempting to get your attention isn’t fair to them and could change the nature of your relationship with your kids if they don’t feel they are as important as the device. “These data are a wake-up call for we parents in that we really need to think about how these enticing devices not only distract us but potentially change who we are as parents,” says Swanson.”
The article has some important information about TV, too.
What Can We Do to Protect Our Family Time?
It’s so easy to get addicted to smartphones, tablets, and the Internet in general. I know what it’s like to raise kids without smartphones, tablets, or even the Internet. As much as I love technology, I’m thankful the Internet wasn’t available when my children were little. I know they would agree.
I hope we all take the time to think about what we need to do to be present for our families, to use technology in a positive way without letting it steal precious family time that we can never regain.
Do you have ways to protect your family from the negative influences of technology?
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