Time to Unplug That Technology?
March 1-2 was the National Day of Unplugging Day.
A day when individuals separated themselves from their smartphones, tablets, and personal computers for 24 hours, to connect with people on a more personal basis.
The omnipresence of the Internet and social media is something many of us take for granted today, even though it would have been a science-fiction fantasy fifteen years ago.
But are smartphones impacting how we with other people — even our own families — in negative ways?
Tool or Toil?
You don’t need a Harvard study to tell you that for many, the answer is yes.
A single look at your Facebook feed will tell you just how much social media and smartphones have transformed our culture. What used to be “downtime” is now filled with text, chat, status updates, or games.
A smartphone can easily become less like a useful tool and more like a leash when it clamors for attention every few moments.
Got an Addiction?
The addictive properties of mobile devices are no joke — smartphones and other mobile Internet devices can act like Skinner boxes, delivering small psychological rewards in exchange for little bits of effort.
Many “casual” games require little skill or strategy, but instead thrive on occasional but regular attention.
A desire to get Facebook “likes” or other online validations has encouraged people to share even the most trifling minutiae in return for the easy attention of friends, family, or strangers.
But these small online interactions take time, and the small amounts add up.
It’s not unusual to attend social or family gatherings where everyone is on their laptop, tablet or smartphone, ignoring the people in the room while they communicate with strangers — or, in many cases, communicate with each other over the Internet while in the same room!
Has Addiction Infected The Family?
If your family dinner table has started to look like a tech exhibit, it may be time to reclaim your family time and start interacting with your spouse and children again.
While locking the smartphones in a drawer for a week (or even a day) is not likely to be popular, limiting their use can have a big positive impact on your family’s interactions.
Set some ground rules forbidding the use of smartphones at the dinner table, and don’t eat in front of the television or any other screens. Institute a “one-screen” policy in your home — if the TV is on, then no playing with the laptop or tablet at the same time.
Better yet, plan some activities and get out of the house altogether.
Of course, having mobile devices means that you can’t leave the Internet behind just by leaving home — but you can switch off your phones, or leave behind all but one or two, in case of emergencies. (If the thought fills you with horror, that might be a good indicator that you’re more addicted to your device than you might think.)
For most families, giving up their mobile devices is neither desirable nor possible.
As a culture, we’ve become accustomed to being in touch whenever and wherever we want — whether our family members are in the next room, or thousands of miles away. But online interaction is no substitute for a good, face-to-face conversation. Plan some activities where you do nothing but talk to your spouse, your kids, your siblings, or all of the above — you might be surprised at how much you enjoy being distraction-free for a while.
Smartphones and the Internet aren’t inherently evil. Both enrich our lives and have their legitimate uses.
But as with all things, the key is moderation and balance.
Own your devices, and use the Internet — but don’t be owned by them.
Speak Your Mind, With Your Opinion
Nice to see you made it to the end of the post. Here’s what you can do next:
- Could you give up some technology?
- Where has too much technology affected your family life?
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And thanks for reading too – Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
12 thoughts on “Are Smart Phones Impacting Family Time?”
Smartphones are addictive and anyone who has one can’t escape…Even if I wake up at the middle of night, the first thing I do is check my phone..But I guess everything has a limit and after sometime you start to get bored with things..The time I used to spent on FB or Watsapp initially has reduced now and I guess it will reduce even further..There is nothing like meeting people in person….
Everything has both dark and the bright sides, it depends on us how we use it..
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Richa – thank you again for your insights.
Isn’t Whatsapp a brilliant lil app though?
I am in love with it……It is an easy way to be in touch with friends, way better than facebook, I would say….text messages have died after watsapp :P…It is fun and it keeps me up till late at night :P …
And I only just read that Google is looking to buy them for $1B
Google has to poke its nose into everything that’s gaining popularity…LOL
Thats what I thought. And then I thought more about the freaking advertising that’ll make it’s way into the app once Google buy it … Groan!
Smartphones have become a vital part of our lives. Everything that you want is there in the phone and keeps you busy all the time. I have seen many fights between partners because of this technology ;) However, we all need to have time out from this too because excess of everything is bad.
Those fights are on the increase too as technology gets more of a grip on personal lives and people are unaware that they must also deal with relationships in a personal way.
Am I right in assuming you’ve had a few fights yourself, Fatime?
You have initiated a relevant discussion through this post. I must say the technology has made us its slave. I can’t even think of spending a single moment away from my phone, it plays a crucial role in my life, and so is the condition of each and every member of my family. Thanks.
I think you need to consider a different viewpoint of technology, Aayna :)
Don’t you think?
I can’t even begin to tell you how much of an addiction I have to smartphone. I think I’d freak out if I put it in a drawer for an hour. Ha ha. Still, I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in my media addiction. ;)
Thanks for your admission, Felicia but I think you need to seriously get out a paper and pencil and work on your life priorities :)
You can always try and start small like actually putting your phone in the drawer for an hour and then go from there. Try it – you’ll eventually appreciate the peace.