Years ago, people actually had to get up to answer the phone, the computer occasionally used to write papers, and the television only had three channels.
Now, people answer the phone everywhere, including the dinner table and the bathroom. While people write papers on computers, they often spend more time on Facebook or the Internet than actually accomplishing something.
And only three channels? Those days are over. On-screen viewing options are virtually limitless.
So how does all this technology impact families?
A 2010 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey showed that 1 in 5 American divorces involve Facebook. And, 81 percent of divorce lawyers have reported a spike in cases that use social media for evidence.
One pastor even asked his congregants to quit using Facebook. Why? It's because he saw so many couples experiencing marital problems because of connections to old flames through social media.
Research conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) showed that nearly a quarter of teens have communicated with a boyfriend or girlfriend hourly between midnight and 5 a.m. via cell phone or texting. One in 6 communicated 10 or more times an hour through the night.
Many experts claim that texting contributes to sleep deprivation because most kids sleep with their phone within reach. It's hard for them to resist checking the notifications.
According to a 2010 Pew Internet study, fully 72% of all teens – or 88% of teen cell phone users — text. Among all teens, their frequent texting has now overtaken the frequency of every other common form of interaction with their friends, including face-to-face interactions. For example, teens use texting to enhance friendships, handle a conflict, begin and end romantic relationships and even to mediate difficult conversations.
The average person watches four hours of television daily, which equals six months of eight-hour days.
From family dinners and vacations to date nights and even Christmas morning, families are being slammed from every direction with technology, all in the name of staying connected. But, is staying connected with the outside world as important as staying connected with the people closest to you?
Perhaps one of the best things we can do is truly connect with each other. Families who are engaged with each other actually do better in every area of life.
Consider these questions:
Can you establish “no technology” time zones? For example, no cell phones or television at the dinner table – parents included. Maybe teens can leave phones in the kitchen at night and computers in public spaces. Perhaps time limits for social media could be helpful?
Would you rather your child participate in family game night or play a game on Xbox alone instead?
Is a family meal more constructive than family members eating on their own in front of a screen?
When your child applies for a job, will he be able to verbally communicate?
Technology is a lot like money. Families can either learn how to control how much technology invades their world or they can let it control them. Which would you prefer?
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