What Have We Gained–and Lost– through Technology?
By Amanda Grossman-Scott
I am constantly amazed and grateful for technology in my life. I have an app that tracks how many steps I’ve taken. One that tells me at what location my preteen left his phone. I can track the stars and constellations and see what time my amazon order left the packing facility. I can check my bank balance and my kids’ grades, find a coupon 30 seconds before I check out and order dinner to meet me at home. These are things I never imagined but now it seems I can’t live without them. I’m hard-pressed to delete any of my apps when memory space is tight.
We’ve gained a lot, to be sure. I’ve kept in contact with family members, learned things I didn’t know with a simple search and occupied my children on long trips with podcasts and movies.
But lately I’ve been wondering what we’ve lost. When I’m having a minor crisis, I’ve found myself turning to my dependable group text or Facebook “friends” for support. Eight years ago I would’ve turned first to my husband, then picked up the phone and had a conversation with a friend- using our voices. When my children misbehave I find myself googling their seemingly bizarre behavior—instead of sitting down with them and asking “what’s up?”. Do you remember Columbine? I was riveted and glued to my TV. Same with 9/11. Now… it’s just become daily life, fodder for politicians and instantly made into memes.
Is what we’ve lost what makes us human? Our empathy and compassion? The wonder of well, wondering?
I was on a road trip with my kids last summer. All the devices died. We were in the middle of the desert. I heard the last DS snap shut, accompanied by a sigh, and 2 seconds later “I’m bored”. I remember when my kids were toddlers and we didn’t have a tablet, an ipad, and ipod, a couple of DS’s and a Kindle (etc, etc…) and I thought it was good for them—to not be constantly entertained, to have to find things that are interesting to them or be creative on their own. It WAS good for them. But somehow they’ve forgotten how to entertain themselves.
Back to our road trip through the desert. We’re in our car, artificially-cooled air blowing in our faces, not even noticing the absolute exquisite splendor of our surroundings. I ask them if they know how to catch air, to surf on it with their hands. I instruct them to roll down their windows (which is something they’re never allowed to do!) and show them how to allow their hands to surf on the wind. My youngest leans closer and her hair blows in the night air and she says “it feels like flying!”
This is what we’ve lost. This is something screens can’t replicate. Humanity. Family togetherness. Life experience.
I can show my family a thousand pictures of the desert. All beautifully photographed from different angles. But it won’t replicate the feeling of BEING in that vastness, together. Of feeling the overwhelming heat of noonday or the quickly cooling air and beauty of the moonrise. Of knowing we are ultimately dependent on each other for survival.
Our books have many great conversation starters, and they can help you improve communication between you and your children. Check them out! 30 Days of Sex Talks; How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, which is also available in Spanish; and 30 Days to a Stronger Child.
Amanda Grossman-Scott is Board Vice president and Head Writer for Educate and Empower Kids. She has written for various magazines, newspapers and blogs and has been active in the journalism industry intermittently for the last 15 years. She studied Journalism and Communications. Amanda is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and now lives with her husband and three children in San Antonio, Texas.
SET A GOAL: Can you spend 30 minutes a day with your child—with NO screens? It might be harder than you think! But it might give you a much-needed wake-up call. How present are you?