09 Feb Tech-Tethered–Held captive by technology?
A few weeks ago I attended a family reunion. Getting everyone together is very hard to accomplish. As the week progressed, it was interesting to see the interactions between various family members or should I say a lack of interaction. Most were endlessly distracted, glued to their phones, keeping Facebook up to date of the festivities and activities they were hardly participating in. How do you carry on a conversation or interact with someone who is totally focused on technology?
We have become such a dependent society on technology that communication in general is declining. There is a time and a place for your phone. A few examples of inappropriate phone use would be on a date, breaking up a relationship or while engaged in face-to-face conversation with someone else.
Research has shown that the more time on the internet, social media and technical devices means less time spent in real face-to-face communications.[i] While these technologies seem to be a good way for parents to connect with teens, it is proven that electronic communications are not as good as face-to-face communications and directly impact the quality of our family relations.
Instant electronic communication creates a constant need to be contactable at all hours of the day. One study wrote, “It’s not about going online but being online[ii].” There are concerns about the technology surrounding us every day. We become addicted to the shallow social support the internet offers[iii]. We become so focused on how many followers we have, and are less concerned for those in the same room as us.
Those using social media throughout the day can actually increase feelings of isolation. They begin to withdraw from their family and friends and turn to their phones as a source of comfort and communication. Communicating electronically leaves a large window for misunderstandings to occur. More than half of human communication is conveyed through non-verbal means like facial expressions and inflections. Because we aren’t having as many face-to-face interactions, our abilities to read and understand the body language of others is becoming lost.[iv]
We have become a people tethered to our phones. Unable to efficiently get the things done that we want because of the need to answer or look at every “ding” that comes our way. We’ve become so focused on what others think of us, what others are saying, what everyone had for the last meal.
Are we pushing away loved ones for our desire to be “tethered?” Let’s enjoy life in real time. Let’s make the most of every moment. We must have self-control over the time spent on devices. We need to set up boundaries for ourselves. Rachel Macy Stafford promotes a hands free attitude in life. She suggests putting the phone away and enjoying each moment in the moment. Experience those opportunities that won’t happen again.
Dance in the rain. Enjoy the time with your family. We must embrace those things in life that really matter. Block out times during the day as “tech free”. Enjoy the outdoors, go on a walk, plant a garden, have friends over, look at the stars, connect with loved ones, fly a kite. There is so much around us to physically experience. We just need to pay attention to find it.
And you can bet that the next family reunion I am invovled in planning will be somewhere remote, where cell phones are put away and everyone will experience some good old fashioned fun.
[i] “Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communications versus technological communication among teens” by Tamyra Pierce
[ii] Family functioning and information and communication technologies: How do they relate? A literature review” by Joana Carvalho et. al
[iii] “Addiction to mobile text messaging applications is nothing to “lol” about” by Abdullah J. Sultan
[iv] Family functioning and information and communication technologies: How do they relate? A literature review” by Joan Carvalho et. al