I remember being at an event where guests were supposed to use disposable box cameras to help the host capture the event. After snapping a picture, one of my sons said, “I want to see…” I realized that every picture he’d ever experienced was digital.
Who would have ever thought that a little device that we can hold easily in one hand could become so much to us: a phone, a calendar, an extensive library of books, music and movies, a camera, a means for researching answers to innumerable questions… just to name a few. So vast are the possibilities with our technological devices that they have become our starting point for everything. Amazing, right?
Yes… and no.
It is true that technology has added a great deal that is positive to our lives. From the doctor’s office to the farmer’s field, we experience the benefits of technology daily. But for all that is good, there are other things that are not so good. I’m sure we could brainstorm quite a list if we put our minds to it, but instead let me analyze our circumstances:
Three Characteristics of the Technology Ditch
1. Technology appeals to our laziness. It is basic human nature to choose ease over effort. Sometimes the easy road is fine to take, but when it isn’t, we don’t find ourselves naturally embracing difficulty. It is easy to see what Wikipedia has to say, but when it comes to real research we need to put in greater effort than just consulting Google’s top three sites that match our search inquiry. Technology offers endless shortcuts, and often learning is cut short.
2. Technology affects relationships. Truth be told, technology tends to take the place of face to face relationships. With all the time that technology affords us you might think that we would have loads of time to spend in meaningful communication. Instead, we find relationships more numerous while at the same time, more shallow. We can communicate almost instantaneously via text, email, phone and even face to face, but the quality of our communication has diminished. All that instant access often takes the place of deliberate, planned time together.
3. Technology connects us to popular opinion. It connects us with “what everyone is saying” and not necessarily the foundational truths by which we can make sure decisions. They don’t call it the world wide web for nothing. We are more connected than we have ever been before, but what we are connected to tends to be the voice of the moment. Things become true simply because it is “trending.” If the masses are saying it, it must be right. You can find the voice of history on the internet, but you have to decide to look past the innumerable modern voices to get to them.
It is hard to remember what life was like before email, smart phones and the internet. For our kids, it’s all they know, and so it can be hard to recognize the value of thinking outside of the technological box. We need to help our children to use technology as a tool without being mastered by it, so I offer the following suggestions for staying out of the digital ditch.
How to Help Your Kids Stay Out of the Ditch
1. Talk about the impact of technology. We have many easy inroads to just such a conversation: reading a Bible story or classic stories (think Little House On The Prairie or Tom Sawyer) that show the joy of simplicity. These stories show that rich living is possible apart from gadgets.
2. Set parameters for the family’s use of high tech devices. Possible ideas: no texting or Facebook at meal times, scheduling small blocks of time for video gaming, leaving devices at home when out in nature or with family.
3. Try a family fast. Use a weekend to unplug and enjoy the riches of God in His creation.
Your turn. How does your family handle technology?