Are we addicted to technology?
‘They are addicted to Minecraft’
‘She can’t live without Instagram’
‘They go ballistic if I turn off the wifi’
‘They refuse to come to the table without their device’
‘He can’t stop playing with his phone’
I hear these comments regularly from parents about their children. We hear about it ‘ad nauseam’ in the media. This connected society of ours has created narcissistic tweens and teens who don’t know how to communicate face to face. Adolescents who can no longer have conversations or build cubby houses or run and play. Maybe for some. But I certainly don’t think we are in danger of being overrun by mutant kids unable to move or raise their heads from a screen..….yet. But we as parents may need to do some work to prevent this.
We must accept that this world of phones and social media, and video games and likes and comments is the only world our kids have known. Our kids came in to a world where there was an internet and a device in the hands or back pockets of every person they knew.
So yes. It is part of their world. A very large part of their world.
And rather than throw our hands in the air and lament the addiction crisis we have, maybe we need to rethink how we look at the role of technology.
Maybe we need to change the rhetoric.
Maybe instead of an addiction, we should be viewing it as something we actually do need to survive. Something we cannot live without.
With the right foods, with the right amount of food and with the right relationship to food we flourish. Jocelyn Brewer takes this analogy further with her work on Digital Nutrition. We get all the great benefits and nutrients for our social, emotional and physical needs. Wrong foods, too much food and a bad relationship with food and we get the negative consequences of obesity, eating disorders, illness and lack of energy.
And similarly with technology, most people would be unable to function. No, they probably wouldn’t die, but they would certainly cease to function in the same way. And so we put in place some boundaries and monitor our behaviours around it, to ensure the benefits outweigh the negative impacts.
And I know in the olden days, we coped fine without it. But we are not in the olden days. We are in a highly technological, highly connected and global world that relies heavily on devices and screens for our daily operations. For our work, for entertainment, for information, for socialising and for learning.
So let’s look at the ways we use technology instead. Let’s look at our relationship to it and how it affects our relationships with others. Let’s look at the types of activities we are doing on devices. Are we mindlessly consuming or are we being creative and positive? Are we contributing in helpful and meaningful ways or are we just being arrogant or rude. Are we relying on likes and comments for our sense of self worth? Or are we balanced and comfortable in our place in the world. Are we able to have times without it when appropriate? Are we aiming to use it for good?
If we doing those things, then we get all the good stuff.
We get to recognise that whilst we may not wish to live without it, we get to have a positive relationship with it. It helps us and doesn’t hinder us.
It becomes something that we enjoy, and can even occasionally indulge in. It is not something to which we are addicted, but rather a necessary component of our life. Let’s aim to incorporate it into our lives, and our kids lives, in a way that is balanced, healthy and beneficial.