Addicted to Technology?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Karen Hendricks

We use the word “addicted” in association with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee (caffeine) and—sometimes in a teasing way—decadent foods like chocolate. But do you think it’s possible to become addicted to technology?

More and more research is pointing in that direction, saying that we are impulsively checking our phones and other devices as soon as emails “ping” into our inboxes or texts light up our screens. What do you think? Are there times when you feel addicted? Do you ever feel as though your children or spouse are “too connected?” Do you have rules or boundaries set for phone usage in your house?

I brought up this topic over the dinner table a few nights ago. Yes, we try to have dinner together as a family every night… it’s not always possible with sports schedules and other activities, but the majority of the time, we are successful! I think it’s one of the keys to family communication and connectedness. It’s also a sacred time, meaning that devices are not allowed at the dinner table. Rarely, there are exceptions, such as when my husband gets an emergency call from his phone service… or when we’re expecting a call from our college age daughter… but face-to-face dinner conversation is more important.

So, over dinner, we talked about Sundays and how they are probably the day when we use phones and devices (iPods, Kindles, etc.) the least. Sundays have a family feel to them, with our day typically beginning at church, progressing into our Sunday noontime tradition—brunch—usually with pancakes or waffles, and always bacon. Always. Afternoons are spent getting together with friends, watching sports together on TV, catching up on homework, doing fun projects around the house, taking walks or bike rides around our neighborhood, cooking Sunday dinners or baking special treats. It’s a day to recharge our batteries, but unplug from devices.

We don’t have a strict rule about phone or device use on Sundays, but we talked about how it’s just kind of evolved that way. And for that I am grateful. I cherish Sundays for their enriching family moments and want to preserve and protect these special days. Being unplugged allows us to unwind and reconnect with each other in some of the most binding ways: talking, sharing, laughing, touching, hugging and… loving each other.

Tell me what you think… I’d love to hear about your strategies and tips for keeping phone/device use in check. Feel free to leave a comment below!

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2 thoughts on “Addicted to Technology?

  1. I think taking social media apps off your phone, such as Facebook, is a good start for me personally. If it’s not there, I’m not checking it. As far as my husband, he’s been banned of bringing his phone to the table. Sundays are the perfect day for family time. Leave the tablets behind and get the kids outside. We have a rule of no devices in restaurants either. We’re here to enjoy each other.

  2. Karen – You and your children are very balanced in your approach to cell phone and other technology use. Remember, though, that the reason for that is YOU set the precedence from the beginning. I am consistently appalled to see how many very young (way-too-young) children have their hands on cell phones ~ and their parents’ excuses for why that is “okay.” Uh, yes, your child WILL make it through a school day without needing to use a cell phone. The chances of them needing one in an emergency are actually not that high. Also, the chances that their school building will cave in on them and they will need to call you with their “last goodbye” is likely not going to happen either ~ no matter what the media portrays. I cannot remember the name of the comedian, yet I once roared with laughter as I listened to him list all of his friends’ reasons for allowing their children to have a cell phone. He countered every single one of them and it was hilarious ~ and true! So many parents these days are afraid to say no. Where do these kids get their devices? They certainly do not have the money to purchase one, nor maintain the monthly coverage bill; and many cannot drive to a store to purchase one. In other words, the appropriate time for owning a cell phone, or other technological device; as well as proper usage and etiquette, falls to PARENTS.

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