You’re on a hike. Your iPhone rings. You quickly click off your iPod. Your girlfriend IM’s you to reschedule your lunch date for the following week. You check your I-organizer to make sure you’re free. You e-mail her with potential dates. Perhaps, you’ve just picked up your child from school and your cell phone beeps indicating a new text message. You read it carefully avoiding the ice cream truck that is headed in your direction. You pull over to the side of the road telling your child you will only be a minute. It doesn’t matter because he is in the back seat also plugged into an “I” something or other.
And what does your child do when he gets home from school? More often than not he is sitting in front of the computer or spending time playing video games. If your child is anything like mine, he is video chatting, watching television, hanging out in cyberspace and listening to his iPod.
Let’s face it, these high tech gadgets offer tremendous benefits and allow us to not only be more productive but also more efficient. Want to locate your college roommate? No problem. Looking for your soul mate? Easy. Need Groceries? Done. Interested in the skiing conditions in Switzerland? Simple. Anything you need or want is most likely just a click away.
According to Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston, “technology is moving forward far faster than our capability to understand the implications of it and to understand the outcomes of it.” Although no one can argue the benefits of these high tech gadgets, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out that the short term effects are significant and far reaching for adults and children alike.
Here are some common side effects of high-tech gadgets:
1. Increases risk of obesity. When was the last time your child came home and played outside, using his imagination instead of parking himself in front of an electronic device? 2. Allows our children access to pornography, foul language, and racy movie scenes. Don’t forget the risk of encountering online pests, pedophiles or cyber bullies.
3. Distracts our children from their schoolwork and other activities. They can’t possibly give their full attention to school work when all the “I’s” are on (iPod, iPhone, IM-ing).
4. Takes time away from family. When’s the last time your child walked the dog? Played a board game?
5. Little or no social skills. Spending time glued to a computer screen renders us inept in just about every social situation. Do your kids know how to answer the phone politely? Can they speak in full sentences? Do they know what to say in certain situations?
Similar to a drug addict, we have become addicted to technology. We’re a society that has become obsessed with doing more, having more, achieving more. Why do you think we call owners of the popular Blackberry cell phone “crack berries?” We’re like mice on a wheel sometimes. Spinning endlessly, thinking we’re going somewhere when in fact we’re going nowhere all the while missing out on what’s really important—family, friends, nature and mostly us!
So, next time you find yourself in the car alone or with your child, try what I did. Turn off the radio and put away your cell phone. Reconnect with yourself and reconnect with your child. Sit in silence with yourself or have a conversation with your child. Notice the world around you. Notice the world inside your child! I think you’ll be amazed. I know I was!