As a full-time working mom, wife, sister, daughter, volunteer, co-worker and friend, I feel like I wear a lot of hats – probably even a few I forgot to list here! As my kids get older, I’ve recently become interested in the topic of how technology – and particularly the concurrent rise of social media – is affecting their childhood, both in and outside of our home. My oldest child is now able to say things like, “Put down the iPad!” or “You said no phones at the table, mom!” as my husband or I are busy checking our texts or peeking at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram while trying to juggle kids in the background…
And that’s just the problem. When did my own kids become “the background?” Shouldn’t they be the focus?
I recently heard excerpts of a great TED Talk by Sherry Turkle while listening to NPR’s TED Radio Hour in the car and I couldn’t wait to get home to find the whole thing online. Turkle is a professor at MIT and the current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. In her TED talk, Turkle asks if we’re too connected to connect… Good question!
In her research, Turkle often hears people say, “no one is listening,” but finds that technology and social media present the “illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” This underscores what I’m seeing in my own life as a vicious circle of being too busy to connect – but part of the “too busy” is the time spent “connecting” – often not in real life, but online via social media.
Personally, while there is definitely a time and place for social media (heck – it’s part of my job – of course I believe in it’s value!), I’m resolved that family time is family time and teaching my kids to connect in real life by setting a good example is key to their success later in life – which Turkle inspires in her TED Talk. I urge you to find 20 minutes to watch the video or 12 minutes to listen to the radio interview, then encourage you to walk away from your computer/iPad/smartphone and talk to someone about what you learned. I even welcome you to reach out – I’d love to discuss what you think in person over coffee or lunch – no technology allowed!