When my Aunt Lela was sent home with hospice several years ago, I was in charge of her initial care. One of the first items of business was gathering supplies so we could give her a proper sponge bath. I gave my nephew a list of items to pick up. My nephew looked at the list and asked, “What’s a dish pan?” I laughed.
My friend Ann told me a tale about her niece opening a cabinet filled with record albums. “What are these, Aunt Ann?” she asked. We laughed.
It’s always a little funny to me when a young person asks about a strange product or device from the past. Times do change, and we all remember asking our parents and grandparents about something we found in the kitchen drawer or out in the tool shed. But I get a rather odd feeling when I contemplate the fact that young people have never known a life without certain products or conveniences. I never knew life before television. Today’s young people have never known life before the Internet. And because they were born cyber babies, they have taken to this technology like the proverbial fish to water. My first phone was wired to the wall and confined to a room. Their first phone is a mobile texting device that can access a variety of social media websites. It’s a little unnerving for those of us who remember life before the triumph of personal technology.
While we love our modern devices and services, what kind of price do we pay for spending so much time with them? Susan Maushart wondered the same thing, and she decided her teenagers were spending way too much time connected to cyberspace. She decided to disconnect the family for six months, and tells the story in her new book, The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale.
Not only did Maushart pull the plug on the Internet, she turned off the TVs and the video game box, and restricted use of cell phones. What followed is what the author calls an “immersion in RL (real life).” Saxophone was practiced, board games were played, books were read, grades improved, and face to face conversation became the norm. You can read more about the family’s experiment here, and how it changed their lives.
And now the big questions for those of you with children or grandchildren: How do you think technology is impacting your young ones’ lives for good or ill? Have you ever restricted a young person’s use of technology? What is family life like with today’s technology versus the family life you experienced while growing up?
Don’t have young people in your life? Then, tell us how your life pattern has changed with the advent of technology. Do you have fewer face-to-face get-togethers with friends? Or has cyberspace and social networking actually improved your social life?
All good questions. Let’s talk. Post your comments, thoughts and concerns below. Thanks!