How Technology Contributes
Social scientists and psychologists are citing a real need for teaching young people how to have a conversation. They’ve found that young people would rather text than talk, would rather be found on someone’s feed than be truly known, and would rather have stimulating digital input than seek connection through conversation. Recent research indicates that as our “plugged in lives” expand, the “flight from conversation” continues at a rapid rate.
Growing up, conversation seemed to be something we just did– all the time, everywhere, with almost anyone. It was a way to pass the time. It was a way to gain clarity and explore ideas. It was self-expression. It was an open door into the heart of someone you cared about. We grew as a family through conversation, met new people and learned more about ourselves. Of course, this was all before the advent of the mobile device. This was before children slept with their phones and moms checked Instagram first thing in the morning and right before bed. This was before you would see dads at the park on benches busily scrolling as their kids mastered the monkey bars. Being fundamentally captivated by technology is now the norm.
Students frequently complain that they do not have their parents’ full attention because mom and dad are checking, emailing or scrolling social media during family time. A teenage girl recently confessed, “Sometimes I just want to be with my parents and for them to be one hundred percent there. When we watch a movie together as a family, a lot of the time my dad will be on his iPad. I’m like, ‘Dad! Just watch the movie with me!’” What students really want—what we were all hardwired to desire—is connection through relationship that starts with conversation.
Through conversation, we learn how to listen, understand and share the feelings of another. This becomes a starting place of compassion. Each time we use conversation as a tool to meet new people or understand the people we love, we close the empathy gap. Our kids need to be taught how to do this, and it starts with us.
How have you seen bullying and/or bigotry manifest themselves through technology?
Do you think technology has contributed to the breakdown of relationships?
In this room you witness a beautifully decorated dining table set for a family dinner during the holidays. However, in front of every place setting is each family member’s mobile device. You can literally see what is taking priority in their minds as they scroll through social media, text their friends, curate their story-worthy photos, check e-mails and so forth. The device is physically blocking their view from others at the table but also mentally blocking them from conversation. It’s the idea that technology can isolate us, privatize our actions, consume our thoughts, and begin to break down our relationships. We are together but separate - alone together!