High-Tech Families: Balancing Technology and Family Life
Is technology helping or hurting modern family life? The benefits of having technology around are obvious—letting the six year old kid have a cell phone in case he gets lost is a simple way to avoid shutting down the entire amusement park when he can’t find his parents. And of course relationships with long distance relatives and friends are significantly easier to maintain, with new technologically advanced ways of communicating now easily available. Futuristic modes of communication once only seen on the big screen have transformed into a day to day reality. But no matter how “normal” technology becomes, the bizarre image of a baby deftly navigating his way through Mommy’s iPhone keeps skeptics questioning the effects of technology on the young, impressionable generation.
The “Full House” scenario of kids playing outside is coming to a close as Wiis and PS3s replace the dolls and action figures of our parent’s generation; These gadgets preoccupy the young generation, leaving little time without something to play with or surf on and cutting into time that could be spent bonding with family members. In a recent article on the impact of technology on modern family life, Psychologist Gary Small, M.D. says, “With emailing, video chatting, and TVs blaring, there is little time set aside for family discussion and reflection on the day’s events. Conversations at meals sometimes resemble instant messages where family members pop in with comments that have no linear theme.” Families find themselves communicating with one another on the phone and via text more than in person.
We must remember that the core family values can never be replaced with a technological advancement. Family dinners aren’t the same on Skype, and connection that comes from a face to face conversation can never be replicated in a text message. With that said, technology overall has been a wonderful thing, and there is a way to incorporate both quality family time and gadgets into a healthy lifestyle. In a CNN.com poll, when asked if technology makes life easier 57 percent of respondents voted “definitely,” while 33 percent voted “a little easier, but also more complicated.” Benefits to having the Internet around allow parents to take advantage of the quick answers the Internet can give when Googling the symptoms of their sick child. Social media allows us to connect with family and friends near and far in a click of the mouse. Just remember to use technology as it was intended, to complement and enhance everyday life, not replace it.