The place of technology in our lives
We seem to talk a lot about the dangers of using our technology tools. For example, when I open FB, I can be sure to get at least one post per week about the dangers of addiction, its side effects, and damages. And all those posts are correct.
But we cannot change the fact that technology is here. We use it, we overuse it, we can become addicted to it. It will take time until we can create a society where technology will serve us instead of the other way around. We know that the number of those who spend too many hours in front of a video screen is increasing, and yes, it is an addiction. It is the case that “screen addiction” can cause behavior disorders and even have a role in the development of brain lesions and importantly, these problems focus on the new generation. These are facts. But while we recognize these facts we must deal with them without discarding technology.
We need to find a balance that puts technology in the right place in our lives. And for that, we first need to know where, and why, we actually need them.
21st century onwards
The new information channel
The Internet and mobile technologies have greatly facilitated our life. The new generation is using the Internet to get information in the fastest way; no longer just by reading, but by watching videos, animations, and infographics. And this is just the beginning. The way sci-fi movies show people capturing information virtually like the Xbox Kinect, will happen very soon. How we deal with this new way of capturing information will be an important issue.
Communications have moved to the social networks, emails, Skype calls, and the like. Close family members are breaking the distance through Skype calls. My family is a good example, where my husband and I are often separated. My daughter listens to her bedtime story through Skype. Is that strengthening the relationship? How does this impact the child when parents move out of the neighborhood and relationships can be maintained 1000 miles away?
Social media allows us to keep distant friendships. I love that I can have daily news about my nephews in Brasil, or to be informed if a friend needs quick help with something. Social media also provides help with life challenges. For example, it can help find the right contact for a new job or we can refuse a new opportunity if the person at the other end is not likeable. But are these real relationships? Can we touch it, or do we really need to touch it?
We can see the world without actually going anywhere. We can become a hero without actually doing anything. We can become whatever we want, virtually. Now, that scares me. Gaming is the side effect of the new technologies. I personally never use my gadgets for gaming. Never ever. But we give these toys to our toddlers as early as the age of two, so that they won’t disturb us. Is there a positive side to gaming? I need to say yes. Educational games can emphasize brain development and some other skills. But what is the cost to the development of the person?
I have to admit that I love Youtube, online television, and online music channels. It allows me to decide what I want to watch and when I want to see it. I can listen to music or the news whenever I want. I can watch sports or concerts when it is convenient to me, rather than in real time. But again, it also gives the opportunity to watch useless movies and TV shows all day.
Digital dependence can have serious consequences. Addicts often neglect everything – their health, their families, and friends – and when they can’t get enough time in the digital environment, they show real physical withdrawal symptoms. They become restless and sweaty, their hands shake, and they suffer sleep disorders.
The world cannot be stopped. The new technology is here. The question is to face the consequences and find the right way to use technology and help people to use it correctly.
Summarizing, let me give you some tips to help yourself, your partner, or your child to avoid side effects:
- New efficient communication tool
We can lose personal contact, which causes underdeveloped social skills
Be sure to have real friends and spend time with them every week. Bring your child to after-school activities where he can interact with others.
- Social media
Dependent on your FB or other pages. You need to check it daily or hourly. Leads to isolation and a world of illusions.
Force yourself to only check in once or twice a week. Switch off notifications. Talk a lot with your child about his school friends. Be sure that he participates in programs in groups. Check his social media friends.
Real addiction. Could cause social isolation and lead to violent tendencies.
Step by step limit the gaming. Change gaming to real board games and family activities. If your child spends too much time with games, increase after school activities.
- Online media watching
Can cause real addiction.
Go to the theater or read. If your child doesn’t like to read, find a book together and read it together. There are good and amazing books for every generation. Worst case, take the book version of a movie.
- Collecting information from Internet instead of from real manuals or books
Too much unfiltered information causes con fusion and misinforms us
Generally, we could be blessed that we can obtain information quickly. The importance is not to lose ourselves in the forest. When we start to surf on the net, we tend to spend more time than needed. Try to focus and teach your child how to evaluate sources.
What more can we do?
Because our children were born in a computerized world, they are growing up in a different environment than we experienced, They need to learn how this new world works, how to use technology to learn, to get information and to play with it properly. This is the useful part but it doesn’t answer the questions. how long or how often?
Where do you draw the line between healthy and unhealthy?
- Limit the time to a maximum of one hour / day
- Look for educational games
- Check what they do and what they play
- Sit down and explain to them the danger of addiction
- Be a good example
What kind of examples can we be for our children?
Children learn from example…. Parents provide the first examples, family is the first in line to pick up behaviors. So first of all, let’s see how mommy and daddy are dealing with this Internet, computer, TV, and mobile topic. If you or your partner are addicted to the internet, then don’t be surprised if your child is doing the same thing. He/she is only following your example, just as in so many other things. Examine your home conditions first.
The serious side Effects of the new social and communicational tools
Children and young people these days pick up, more spontaneously and uncritically vast amounts of information in ways that were impossible as recently as 15 years ago. Experts agree that these young subjects are very good at processing all the visual information. And what they lose is paying attention to others, engaging in conversation, or becoming immersed in a book.
Computer obsessed children, especially boys, often have a problem with traditional personal communication, which is no longer considered to be effective.
They avoid eye contact, because their brain is unable to process the speaker’s facial expressions and gestures. This causes stress, so they will avoid personal contact and retreat to the internet; where they will not face disappointment, unpredicted reactions, and embarrassing situations; where they can lead and stop communication whenever and however they want. Thus, the circle closes.
This topic is very sensitive for both adults and children. Because of the gift of the Internet, mobile phones can easily turn you to the “dark”side and do a lot of damage. And who wants their children to live in a virtual world, have no connection to humans, and have separated themselves from this beautiful world.
Life is about personal relationships and the internet is just a tool to facilitate those relationships. An exciting chat on social media is not a real discussion; it’s not face-to-face. What we could write on a forum is not necessarily the same that we would say face-to-face. Who we are is not what we show to the public, nor is it the same that we show over the net. But life is about personal relationship.
It is about learning to love, respect, and care for others. We can only do that by standing next to each other; touching each other. Virtual contact should be like the phone, helping to establish communication and facilitate personal meetings; or support in delivering information. Just let the experience be real.
This is what we need to make our children understand: Technology is our tool, like a fridge, or our washing machine.
Our tablet is not our best friend which even accompany us to the toilet to continue to talk to our schoolfriends on social media. Would you take them along to defecate with you one hundred years ago? Imagine if the tech would be so developed that it would even be capable of the sense of smell?