It is amazing how many people say “I miss load shedding!” , We remember fondly those evenings when the family sat together, ate supper by candlelight and played a game together.
And now we are back to normal, each member of the family sitting on a different electronic piece of equipment. One watching TV, one on their lap top and the others on social media. There is no doubt that technology is having a negative effect on family lives. Here are some of the ways it is impacted.
Between responding to e-mails during kids’ activities, texting at meals, and constant phone time while driving, parents use technology almost as much as teens. This dynamic creates feelings of jealousy and distress in children since they now have to compete for both their parents’ time and focus.
The family dinner is a perfect example of technology affecting quality time. Traditionally a haven from the outside world and a chance to reconnect, today’s dinner is often a frenzied event where members tend to be distracted during the meal by the computer, cell phone or TV. Or they can’t wait to finish to get back to these devices. Here’s an alarming fact: A group of children, aged 4-6, were asked whether they’d want to watch TV or hang out with their dad. Dear old dad lost out!
What to do?
Take family dinner time seriously. One mother insists that all family members put their electronic devices in a basket when they come through the door and retrieve them only after dinner is over. This is a time for the family to share the highs and lows of the day
Once upon a time, a family’s biggest technological nuisance was the phone ringing during dinner or late at night. Twenty-four hour TV programming, the Internet and cell phones didn’t permeate the inner sanctum of the home. School stayed at school, work stayed at work, and those boundaries weren’t crossed except in an emergency.
That was then; this is now. For adults, work doesn’t end just because you leave the office; in fact, companies equip their people with smart phones and laptops so employees are accessible 24/7. Physicians are used to getting emergency calls, but now there are insurance emergencies, technology emergencies, sales emergencies, accounting emergencies and the list continues. Likewise, schools send out e-mails – announcements about homework and events — so kids are getting “business” as well as social messages when they’re at home.
What to do?
It goes back to setting limits; your child’s social life won’t implode if she doesn’t answer 50 texts that night. Also, minimize the double standard. If you limit screen time for kids, do the same for yourself. You don’t want to lose your job over it, but consider how much work you do at home because you “have to” versus what you do because you can and your computer’s right there.
THE INSIDE GENERATION
More than ever before, parents have to encourage, coax or even force their children to get outside and play. Kids spend more time inside because of school, homework, working parents and other factors dictating their schedules, but when they have free time, how do they spend it?
The phrase has been coined “nature deficit disorder,” describing the younger generation’s disconnect with nature. How often do you see kids playing in the woods, building forts or rolling down grassy hills?
Technology isn’t exactly great for our health either. Childhood obesity has shot up.
What to do?
Parents can manage their kids’ “inside” time much like their screen time. Schedule outdoor time, and stick to it. If it’s pretty, get them outside. And from time to time, go with them for a bike ride or a walk. Sending your kids outside while you sit inside and text or send e-mails just “sends” the wrong message.