Connected, but Alone?
We live in what has frequently been called the “Digital Age”.
From smart phones to social media, our methods of communication have expanded exponentially. We can now communicate globally by a variety of means, relatively inexpensively. Businesses are constantly incorporating the latest technologies to improve communications within the company and with their customers. These technologies have made their way into our homes, with the majority of households having at least one computer and internet access. Even our children have their own wireless devices and may spend countless hours Skype-ing or Tweeting with friends or engaged in online games. There are certainly benefits to this enhanced connectedness, but might there also be a downside? With all of these additional communication outlets, might our interpersonal relationships actually be suffering?
Quantity over Quality
Is it possible that we’ve become too inundated with modern technology? Can the constant bombardment of these digital venues lead to detachment? Where should we draw the line? Are we intelligently using the convenience of modern communication technologies, or have we become addicted to and enslaved by them? These are some of the questions which are poignantly addressed in the following short video:
Tips to Break Digital Bondage
- Disconnect from Work: If you must be connected to work at home, set specific times that you will check in. Ideally, you should do what you can to NOT bring your work home with you, but if you must periodically check your email or voice mail, do it during planned times which allow you to schedule around designated time with your spouse and your children.
- Lead by Example: As with everything we want to teach our children, our own actions speak much louder than our mere words. We need to model self-control and discipline in our usage of digital communications. We need to show our spouse and our children that we value spending QUALITY time with them, conversing with them and getting to know them.
- Monitor your Children’s Usage: Don’t assume your kids are safe online. Don’t assume that they know the appropriate usage of social media just because they may be more technically savvy than you are. Don’t assume that your children have the maturity required to set limits on their own usage. As in all aspects of their lives, you as their parent need to protect and guide them.
- Limit and Schedule Usage: It’s very easy to lose track of time online. Just checking one’s email or Facebook messages can lead to hours of browsing or getting caught up in an instant message conversation. Exercising good time management requires setting limits on the amount of time we allow ourselves and our children to spend online. Setting specific times during the week when family members are “allowed” to engage in online activity ensures that there will also be times when everyone is free to engage in face-to-face conversation within the home.
- Schedule Family Times that are Digital-Free: Being deliberate to schedule regular time together as a family is extremely important. Eating dinner together, spending time after work/school or before bed, family game nights and family vacations are the things that build relationships and memories. Select games that encourage interaction and teach communication skills. A good article discussing such games can be found here. Don’t allow these times to be diminished by the distractions associated with digital devices.
- Make the Most of your Face Time: Use the times where you have your kids’ undivided attention wisely. These are the opportunities you have to teach them (more by example than by words) how to engage on a personal level, how to listen and how to show genuine interest in another person. Many parents these days are too busy to really engage with their own children, but this is one of the things they need the most. If we want our kids to feel comfortable coming to us for advice or with their problems, rather than to their friends or total strangers on the internet, then we need to demonstrate our love and care for them as individuals.
Master the Technology
There is so much more that could be said regarding the topic of effectively incorporating technology into our daily lives without allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by it. We must be intentional in how we use it and ensure that we are effectively using it to enhance our lives. Digital communication can be a great thing to help keep us connected with loved ones who cannot be with us; however, it is a poor substitute for a warm hug, a knowing glance or a heart-felt, face-to-face conversation. Don’t miss out on the opportunities to connect on a personal level by being captivated by the alluring glow of your digital device’s screen.
Make the most of your family times! Look for every opportunity to strengthen and deepen those precious relationships! You’ll be glad that you did.
To stronger, deeper family bonds,