Gone are the days when you referred to an apple and everyone understood you were talking about a fruit and a playstation meant a playground in the local park.
Today we are surrounded by technology, such as mobile phones, desktop and portable computers, music and video devices, various game consoles connected to slim, state of the art televisions, and this is just naming a few. Our modernised existence poses two issues in need of daily resolution: managing expectations of those trying to get in contact with us and finding real face-to-face time to spend with family and friends.
These days, most devices have the ability to operate through the Internet which makes us easily accessible to the rest of the world. This, in itself, is a great convenience and an absolute hinderance to our daily lives. We are constantly available by phone, email and via all types of social media, like Twitter and Facebook.
We are all guilty of checking our mobile phones as soon as a message is received and the same applies to emails. Instantaneous reply has become an addiction, which is almost impossible to break. Besides, there is an expectation from those trying to contact us that we will reply almost immediately regardless of the time of day or night, or how long we may need to process the information and respond. Such unrealistic expectations also do not take into account all other activities we may be undertaking at the time the message or the email is received. No wonder that the quality time spent with our children, family and friends has been vastly diminished. To add to the ‘injury’, we teach our children to mirror our behaviour.
These days, an average four year old child is very familiar with how to open and navigate their way though an iPhone, a portable DVD player or television and a portable game console. Kids no longer want to play outside as they do not possess the skills to keep themselves occupied without getting bored and finding something new to move on to. Instead, they are happy to utilise all the available devices within and outside their household continuing to do so on the go, in the cafes, shopping centres and even playgrounds and parks.
Why have we allowed our kids to disconnect with us in favour of technology? Looking closely at the issue, perceived convenience seems to be the main reason. This way we can keep the children quiet whilst we undertake another task, like having a coffee and a conversation with a friend, which would be a positive deed if not for the complete disconnection with our child, sending an email, answering a telephone call (obviously from a different phone to the one in the child’s hands) and not having to endure the possibility of screams and tantrums as a result of the child not getting the required attention.
How do we break the vicious cycle? The easiest solution that comes to mind is taming our use of the technology. Most definitely it is easier said that done, but if a conscious effort is made, anything is achievable. Emails can be read and replied to a couple of times a day at the predetermined hours of the day, same being applicable to the access and usage of social media sites and even answering the landline or mobile phone.
A good example has been set by a well known car manufacturer. Volkswagen created a company policy in regards to employees receiving emails and stopped its email server from sending emails to employees outside the work hours. We should all follow Volkswagen’s lead and deploy the same strategy in our nightly routine and on the weekends. However, as any addiction goes, it needs time and proper “medication” for any chance of it being cured.
Can we kerb the addiction to technology? Unless we admit the problem and make a cognisant effort to solve it, this is an impossible task.