As the years go by, communication is quicker, more efficient, more convenient, more immediate. It goes without saying that technology changes and updates often, and so the rhythm of our lives.
What I’ve been trying to figure out, is how I let my life change so much with the addition of smart phones, television shows on demand, and internet linked to everything. Why does my family’s life look and feel different than when I was a kid?
I think it’s safe to say that there are opportunities to be distracted, more now than ever. There are endless choices, and technology has streamlined communication to a point where it feels ridiculous to have to wait a few minutes before hearing back from someone.
(What in the world?!)
Technology is here to stay, but we still have choices. What can we do to get back to a simpler way of living?
How It All Started
We live in the Age of Information, as social scientists and historians have categorized this period of the most advanced communicative era this world has ever seen. Technology is literally defined as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry; or machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge.”
Basically, tools that we develop through trial and error to live life as efficiently as possible. This rapid succession of technology to what we know today began in the early 1800’s – what would spark the Industrial Revolution. Development of systems based on scientific discovery and invention have propelled us through periods of rapid transportation, factories producing commodities that created supply and demand, which then led to advanced marketing and the development of capitalism… all because of a few wealthy and powerful men.
Must-See Documentary: The Men Who Built America (click to order)
How Technology Affects Family
With all of the advancements through history, came the need to communicate quickly, and when the personal computer entered the scene in the early 80’s, thanks to Steve Jobs & Bill Gates, soon followed the personal cell phone. Now that we are equipped to communicate and find information on our “smart” phones, problem-solving is much easier!
Sure, I can remember a time without cell phones, but not without TV or a microwave. Fast food has been available since my parent’s generation, so I’ve not really had to wait very long for much of anything. But what I’ve noticed is that we’ve come to depend on our gadgets and appliances to the point where we feel lost without them.
Movies, streaming Netflix… no need to wait for the next episode to come out. Binge-watching – can it be as detrimental as binge-eating? I wonder.
It’s easy to put kids in front of the TV and just veg out. Hey, I do it, too! I’ll take a mental break and watch an episode…or three. Or I’ll be productive and watch while I do dishes or laundry. Sometimes the husband and I will make it date night and watch together. But there have also been times when we would all be watching separate things on separate devices… in separate rooms.
That bothered me… but I kept watching, because I was tired, and my mind wanted to rest, and I “needed” to catch up with “my show.”
“They’ll be fine,” I justified. “I grew up watching TV most days and I turned out fine.”
But what I found was that I was used to functioning with that background noise. I needed it to propel my day along… or so I thought. I was having trouble being silent. Just allowing the time to pass and my thoughts to run freely, and if you’re a women who finds it difficult to shut off her brain, you know what I mean.
“I hear a lot of people say that the fear of death and the fear if public speaking are two of the main fears in my generation, but I disagree. I think it’s the fear of silence. We refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phones, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are. We fear silence like it’s an invisible monster, gnawing at us, ripping us open, and showing us our dissatisfaction. Silence is terrifying.”
Am I afraid of the dissatisfaction of just…being? Am I one of those people who always want more? More time, more information, more opportunity, more entertainment. If I function this way, will my kids really be any different? In the next article about Technology and Parenting, I’ll address this issue in more detail.
Don’t Trade Time for the Tablet
We can stray so far from being able to recognize life outside of our devices, whether it’s television, phones, or tablets, and lost those human relationships that use to be the birthplace of ideas, innovation, comfort, care, support, and encouragement. Social media has replaced genuine kinship and real investment in the community around us, and we’ve traded passing knowledge and convenience for real life.
It’s easy to get lost in my phone when my kids are standing right in front of me. I don’t want the depth of my connection with people to be so broad without any real substance – to live an inch deep and a mile wide. This is not a world I want for my kids, and if that means limiting their technology and mine to simplify our world, so be it.
“‘All things are permissible,’ but not all things are beneficial.” -1 Corinthians 10:23
For better or worse, technology is advancing rapidly. Most of us are on our phones and computers more than we’d like to be. We know too much technology is harmful to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health…but what can we do about it?
In Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life, I will walk you through an easy 5-step plan to help you center your life on God and loving others by decluttering your screen time. By introducing new habits with your phone and other screens, you can significantly improve the quality of your relationships, waste less time, and be more productive.
It’s easy to lose track of time when playing a video game, shopping online, or answering email. It’s time to focus less on the urgent, entertaining, and sensational, and to shift your attention to what is most important to you.
Join the Letter-Writing Challenge!
Choose one family per person to write to, whether it’s your parents, cousins, old friends, your pastor, a friend who’s been sick or having a difficult time. Write it yourself or just send a simple hand-written thank-you card. Sit with your kids as they do the same. Reference your Christmas list or send a quick text asking them for their address.
The goal is to write one letter each week for one month, ask them to write back, and see how many responses you get 🙂 Share with us in the Facebook group how it went and take pictures of your family writing or mailing the letters.
Click here or the image above to join our private Facebook group 🙂