How does one turn off technology and turn on life? The truth is we can’t, at least not completely. Technology has become so integrated with day to day living that they seem inseparable. I wouldn’t be communicating with you if it was not for technology.
Sunsets are no longer just sunsets, not when we have a smartphone. The sunset is captured and shared on social media. Whoopee! But are we deadening our experiences by turning every moment into pixels? Is the angle of the shot and the ‘likes’ it gets more rewarding than feeling the warmth of the sun and just holding it close to our hearts?
As a mother, I worry that my children may never tell the difference between the digital and real world. Suddenly, the television our mothers always warned us about seems like a rather tame beast. Technology cannot be switched off as easily.
But we cannot overlook the good technology has done, either. It has brought the world closer; it has turned education into something kids can look forward to with kids’ games that make learning fun and it provides easy access to information. Technology is the classic case of ‘we cannot live with it and we cannot live without it.’ Perhaps we need to tweak it and be happy to live with it but not be consumed by it. Easier said than done, eh?
In my family, we try to shut the door on technology for at least an hour every day. This is a lot tougher for my husband and me than it is for the kids. Initially, switching off the cell phone actually made me panicky, thinking I might miss out on an important or emergency call, but it is hard to teach our kids to switch off if we, ourselves feel handicapped without technology. So we make it a rule not to check our phones during meals and it is also off-limits while praying.
Going out to play, which was once the most natural thing, is now something we enforce in our home – whether it is bicycling, playing ball or taking a book out to the garden. On the weekends that we take road trips, I resist the urge to keep the kids occupied with mobile apps, and resort to old car games instead, where we can talk. I also turn off GPS and instead ask the kids to read maps and give us directions. It takes more effort and the kids often find this uncool, but I find that creating these technology blank-outs whenever possible is important.
This one is harder still, but I try not to document my children’s life in photographs and videos; at least not all the time. When we are at the beach, I want to be there with my kids, not standing outside the frame. Life is not all about people doing exciting things, smiling all the time. I would not want my kids to begin comparing their life with other people’s virtual realities and not face up to what IS reality.
There is no rule book to living with technology. I create the rules as we go along. Like they say, the right way is not always the easy way. While it is not an insurmountable issue, it helps to keep in mind that we can either make technology work for us or allow it to consume us. By establishing clear boundaries, we can have the best of both worlds, real and virtual.
Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.
“Look,” Adapted CC Image Courtesy of AZAdam