Addicted to the Internet

It seems fitting to begin my blog with some interesting information about the internet and our interaction with it. What are we thinking? Really. Last night at dinner with my family I looked around the restaurant and all but one of 12 tables had kids and they were all on some sort of electronic device , likely attached to the internet. Why? I was really interested in the answer to this question, so I asked some of my young friends with kids. I got many answers , one said, “its a good way for adults to enjoy a meal”. The other said, conversations with our family go downhill fast so its best to keep the kids busy on their devices to avoid family drama. Oh my. Im astounded.

First, lets talk about addiction. Addiction is about escape. Its about what we reach for to numb out or avoid pain. Many reach for their electronic devices when bored, angry  and lonely. This carries us away for a brief time to another place where we have no worries, or at least we have forgotten them for a bit. Some however, are not able to put the devices down to reconnect with the real world. This is when devices become a compulsion. Difficult to disconnect from if not impossible. Have you ever seen an entire family walking down the street with their heads down looking into smartphones? Its dangerous in many ways but in terms of this conversation, it is dangerous to be so engrossed in online activities that you cannot put your phone down for the short time out walking with loved ones. It is dangerous for our families not to connect when out together but instead to substitute in person connection with one another for online connection.

For the next generation , what are we tethering them to? For us, there was family time in the car , at dinner and at sporting events. Now, all of these occasions are interrupted by our electronics. We put our kids in the back seat with a movie. We give our kids devices to distract them during meals. No more climbing trees with the neighborhood kids because our kids are gaming. At what cost do we use these devices as babysitters and master distracters? What are the cognitive and soul effects of electronics on us all?

Marriages suffer because of electronics. On any given evening two spouses are in bed with one perusing social media and the other watching tv. Have we forgotten how to engage with one another in meaningful in person communications? Our kids walk by in the hall and see out disconnect and what is the impact this makes on them? What behaviors are we modeling for our kids. Generational habits begin with us.

A survey reveals that 1 in 4 kids under the age of 6 has a smartphone and 77% of Americans have smartphones.  Research supports that electronics can negatively impact our kids cognitively and their ability to connect socially as well as excel in some areas of education due to impact of electronics. And so, I wonder, what will our world look like when the next generation is at the helm?