Technology is wonderful in many ways, but it is also adversely affecting family life. Any parent who has a child who doesn’t eat food unless being given an iPad knows this to be true. In this piece, we tell you five ways in which technology is causing lasting damage to your family life, and what you can do about it.
Technology is today ubiquitous in our lives. It performs many, many vital tasks that are designed to relieve us of our time-consuming activities and leave us time rich. However, technology is also a double-edged sword: it has the power to leave us time rich, but it also has the power to suck out all the free time it gave us, and some more. As a result, we’re now living in an age where families don’t have face to face interaction and lose themselves in mobile screen phones.
If your family is similar, if members of your household communicate via text or Whatsapp while in the same house, here are a few ways in which it is damaging your family life without you realising it.
1. Reading and language skills
The more time kids spend in front of a screen – whether it is television or an iPad – watching moving pictures, the less their linguistic abilities develop during their infancy, and there is nothing like language that powers the creative abilities and imaginations of human minds. Limit screen-watching time of your kids and engage them in reading, writing and storytelling sessions so that they grow up in a language-rich environment.
2. Quality time
In a recent study of children, they were asked whether they would rather watch television or spend time with their father. A full 54% of respondents chose the television. Family dinners have gone out of the proverbial window now with family members scrambling together and watching television while eating. If this happens in your household, make the effort to bring the family to the dining table at dinner, and ban all kinds of screens – yours included – from this place of laughter and engagement. Have topics of conversation ready for each dinner, and make it an event that your kids look forward to.
3. Empathy gets affected
Communication via words and emoticons don’t tend to carry the richness of cues such as body language, tone and facial expressions. So people who spend an inordinate amount of time with text-based communication often lose out on the ability to empathise and understand the give-and-take dynamics of real life social interaction.
4. Boundaries have blurred
At one time, before technology had invaded our lives, separation of duties was better defined. Work stayed at work. Personal life stayed at home. School stayed at school. Vacations were actually vacations. But now, everyone is always multi-tasking, which means nobody is doing anything with full focus anymore. People check email and attend work meetings on weekends. Teenagers break up on one chat window while flirting on the next while sitting at a dinner table with their parents. And so on.
5. Children don’t play outdoors anymore
More and more, parents are finding that they have to coax their children out into the open to play. Outdoor play – where kids interact with their peers and their environment – is vital in the development of a child. Studies indicate that today’s generation of children are growing with ‘nature deficit’, which means they are disconnected from nature. A great way around this is to schedule regular outdoor exercise and sport with your children.