These days, children grow up sliding their fingers across screens of iPads and iPhones, and if parents take them away, children react as if a toy or a hula-hoop was being taken from them. However, it is not only children who act this way when smartphones are taken away – it’s our entire society. The importance of technology in people’s lives presents an entirely new question – should we start a conversation about proper technology etiquette that we will be able to carry with us into the future?
As a millennial, I didn’t grow up with smartphones as a kid. I was introduced to technology (computers and “stone age” cellphones), along with most of my peers, when I was a teenager. These days, I look around and instead of a face, all I see is two hands holding a phone to their face, struggling to make human contact with others and myself because of this object. Children are being exposed to technology at a younger age than before, putting parents in the position of having to set rules and etiquette for their kids’ use of technology.
There is no denying that technology has made life easier and more efficient. There are apps for fitness, education, and medical research. There are apps to keep in touch with family located on the other side of the world. We have reached a time when technology is creating a better planet in many ways. The smartphone gives us knowledge, helps us stay connected and creates a more positive human experience.
However, when we look at our interactions with close relationships, smartphones keep us in touch with the very humans we are losing contact with because of…smartphones. How do we solve this conundrum? How do we make sure smartphones connect and not detach us from one another at the same time?
These questions should be dealt with early on, as soon as children are exposed and before they are engulfed in this technology. Parents need to have these questions at the forefront of their minds as they teach their kids the manners of social interaction. The right balance between parental supervision and involvement will ensure that children use technology while still developing adequate language and communication skills.
Parents must teach their children and children must teach their parents that there is more to life than technology and that there is a balance to be found between the two. As we continue to grow into our roles as humans with technology always surrounding us, we must have a balance of our own. We should use smartphones when we need to while remembering to put them away when they are not appropriate. When crossing a street, look up and put the phone away. While driving put the phone away!
Technology is here to stay; it will be a part of our daily lives for the rest of our lives and for the lives of generations to come. It is up to us, on an individual level to leverage and balance our technology with actual human connection and communication. So, during dinner with family and friends, make sure to connect on a human level without phones or computers. A year later when all of the people at that family/friends dinner are all living in different states, get your phone out and Skype one another and remember the time you had the distraction-free dinner.