American family life is changing at an ever faster rate. When my grandmother was little there were no TVs. When my mother was little, there were no VCRs. When I was little there were no cell phones. When my children were really little, there were no iPhones or at least everyone didn’t have one yet and let their babies use them! All of these new forms of technology have been fast adopted and they have become a part of American family life. And at first you could argue that the technology may have been bringing families together around the TV but now you could argue that the technology is bringing families apart as they each watch their own accessible screen. Is technology taking over family life? I think so, at least to some degree. But what is the effect of technology on family life?
Is Technology Taking Over American Family Life And Is That A Problem?
In my opinion, the crux of what’s wrong with kids having cell phones with them all the time is that they’re never just doing THIS- they’re always on the lookout for something better, something more compelling, more interesting. And what that leaves me, and everyone else with, is a feeling of “not good enough”, not interesting enough, a second choice or worse, a last resort. And this is the problem with technology that surrounds us.
It’s the feeling you get when you’re at a party and in the middle of telling what you think is a funny story, and you see the listener’s eyes drift past you to the door, where a really hot person has just walked in, sucking all the oxygen out of the room. You lose. You’re judged, and found lacking. That feeling sucks. And now, it’s with these young people ALL THE TIME. There’s constantly something more interesting, or the thought that there might be something more interesting on a different website. And so they never really pay attention to the person right next to them, but interact with them by showing them what’s more interesting than THEM, on this little screen. It’s hollow, and disappointing, and self perpetuating and that is the problem with technology taking over American family life.
So if you are thinking, yes but that is just an opinion, well, then let’s look at the technology usage statistics. There are actually problems with cell phone addiction and if you find that hard to believe, just try not checking cell phone for the rest of the day.
Technology Usage Statistics:
*Said their mobile phone is the first and last thing they look at each day 29 %
*Said they need to have the latest mobile technology 18 %
*Who check their mobile device every 30 minutes or less 37 %
*Said they could only go a few hours without their mobile phone 34 %
*Said they prefer to communicate by text message 32 %
*Say their mobile device make them better parents 65 %
*Who would take their mobile device to work over their lunch 66 %
Technology Usage Statistics from statisticbrain.com
Cell Phone Usage Statistics Among Kids
- A 2010 Pew Internet Project survey found that 75% of those ages 12-17 have cell phones, up from 45% in 2004. The Pew Internet Project report also documents that many teens use their cells for an array of activities beyond texting and talking. Of the 75% of teens who have cell phones: 83% use their phones to take pictures, 64% share pictures with others, 60% play music on their phones, 46% play games on their phones
- According to comScore, as of June there were 234 million U.S. cell-phone subscribers 13 and older, and about 33% of these were smartphone owner
- According to market research firm the Yankee Group, 54 percent of 8 to 12 year olds will have cell phones within the next three years
Cell Phone Usage Statistics from webwisekids.org
Technology Family Time Challenge
So, here’s my technology family time challenge. I would like parents to confiscate the phones for an evening, when there is something actual going on, over the idea that something virtual is more interesting than what’s happening right here, right now. Can they do it? Can WE do it? Be present in the moment? Have an actual experience, not a virtual experience? Let’s try it. Let’s put our priority back on actual American family life that we create through interactions!
This wasn’t meant to be a rant about kids as much as noticing how much we all (kids and adults) miss when we have our nose down in our phones. And it’s not just the Internet. There are lots of people who are constantly texting on their not smart phones. It’s about intention and noticing and being present in the moment. And it’s also about owning something in a public way- saying to others that I’m going to try value actual family time. I am going to do things differently.
Does your family have technology usage rules? How do you make sure that technology is not taking over your family life?