We all know how important technology is to us these days. It keeps us connected with family
as well as the global community. It gives us easy access to information, and helps us do our
jobs more efficiently. But did you know some of the side effects of extensive use of
technology? Researchers are finding that children who spend a great deal of time on electronic
devices have a higher risk of near-sightedness as they grow, in addition to eye strain when on
devices too long. The light emanating from computers, smart phones and other devices cause
our brains to be stimulated, so using them late at night makes children and adults have
difficulty falling asleep. Sociologically, we are also seeing poorer communication skills in our
children as texting and “chatting” seem to be the most prevalent means of communicating in
this new generation. This means that short, abbreviated messages that don’t include greetings
or closing comments are the means of communication today. This takes away the “polite
manners” that we learned in the past, as well as narrowing the focus of the message so that it
doesn’t include the style of the person’s meaning. Also, without actually hearing a person’s
voice or seeing his/her facial expressions, many messages can be misconstrued.
How can we alleviate some of these problems? I suggest we ‘unplug’ a little this winter and
see how we, as parents, and our children can spend more time together enjoying each other’s
company and communicating effectively. Why not try to stay off our devices just ½ hour a day
for a week and see what other things you and your family can do with your time? Here are
(1) Play board games together – from Candyland, to Clue, to Monopoly or Scrabble, this can
be a fun way to interact with each other.
(2) Try a game of Charades – this will be a good test of your family’s ability to communicate
in a variety of different ways.
(3) Listen to music together – sing/dance/talk about the musical era – find commonality in a
different type of expression.
(4) Read a book – a ‘real’ book with pages to turn and feel the thrill of jumping into another
time or place within the pages. You can read aloud together and discuss the story as
you go, or each read your own book and share each other’s tales.
These are just a few suggestions of how you and your family might get away from technology
and interact with each other in more meaningful ways. It might also make the winter go just a
little faster by adding this variety to your daily life!