Part 5: Your Family on Tech

This is part five of the 5-part series: Relationships Are Complicated! Check out parts one, two, three, and four.

Relationships Are Complicated.P5We live in a world where technology and social media take up so much space in our lives. Between emails, random notifications, texting, and all those annoying Facebook game requests, it can feel like we are losing our ability to connect with others. While we are greatly helped by technology making our lives easier, it also feels like it’s become a barrier for how we interact with our family.

However, there is a way to incorporate technology into your family that will not only enhance your connection but also bring you together in a way that feels just as organic and authentic as being physically together.

Before we get into the steps for positively using tech in your family, let’s talk about how our culture and society has built a dysfunctional relationships with tech. In our haste to make our lives easier and more accessible, we have also become dependent on technology to get even the most mundane tasks done. Even when we are praising the newest device for it’s speed and efficiency, we are cursing the fact that our kids just text us instead of answer the phone when we call. The purpose of this is due to us learning what it means to have tech in our lives. This level of mobile, 24/7 technology is overwhelming for both you and your child. As we learn to cope with the instant gratification and quick information gathering, our children are learning how to forge friendships and relationships based on virtual communication. When you think about it like this it opens up a space for you and your family to give and receive empathy for one another. And, when you invite empathy around technology use you can begin to come up with strategies and solutions for enhancing connection both virtually and physically.

Now, here’s another soapbox issue: Let’s stop pretending that we care about mothers and their child when we shame them for using their technology while caring for their child. I say this because we never know the whole story behind why a parent may be checking her device while they are out with their child. Not only could it be for a number of reasons, shaming or claiming that this parent is inattentive to their child does nothing to help this parent be more effective or connected to that child. My rule of thumb: you can either respectfully alert her to her child’s danger if you see that the child is about to hurt himself or you can continue on your way. This suggestion goes back to the idea I posed above: we all have to learn how to incorporate technology into our lives; no one does it perfectly.

Essentially, if we continue to demonize these practices and we make families feel as if there is something wrong with using tech we make it harder for us to learn and gain more effective ways to be one with technology.

Now that we have explored the reasons technology has become such a large part of our lives and what we can do to be more empathetic to one another as we all learn how to adapt, here are a few ways to use technology to help families connect:

  1. Share Things: Start up a family group message and share pictures, quotes, etc. with each other during the day. By using technology and social media to share our lives we are learning how to be more aware of it and we are learning each other’s patterns about technology.
  2. Talk About Tech: Share new things that you learn about tech and teach each other what you learn. If you’ve found a new music app that’s free, share it. If you see a great article that would create an awesome discussion in your family, share it and bring it up when you’re together. And, talk about how technology is positively and/or negatively affecting your life.
  3. Identify Patterns: There are so many ways to monitor and get to know more about your family’s habits around tech. ONe way is to use a device called KoalaSafe, a box that you attach to your home internet connection that gives your family stats on how everyone uses the internet. Check out this interview I did with the creators of this device.
  4. Develop Curiosity: If one or more members is using the tech more than you think they should, be curious about how and why they are using it. As you begin to notice when they use technology you can address the issue underneath as opposed to solely taking away the tech.
  5. Plan No-Tech Time: This plan should be discussed with each member of the family’s thoughts in mind so you can come up with a time a no tech plan that everyone is okay with. Also, part of developing this plan is that you should be willing to update and modify the planned no tech times as need

One of the major things about this new tech world is that it is here to stay.

Learning how to incorporate it into our lives as opposed to demonizing it (or shaming others who are attempting to adapt) will actually allow us to have more awareness about how we are using it. Whenever shame or blame is added to the dialogue we are essentially stopping that dialogue. In our families we can develop healthy habits around technology when we seek to be curious, we seek to understand why there is a need there, and we seek to use technology to enhance our relationships. Even more so, opening the conversation to explore what this new avenue of communication means to our society and to our culture within our family will allow use to create a safe space where our kids will talk to us about their barriers, setbacks, triumphs, and successes as they learn to live in a world where technology will be a huge part of their world. And in the end, that’s really what we hope for our families: that we can use each other to cope with and overcome whatever comes up in the world together.

4 thoughts on “Part 5: Your Family on Tech”

  1. Dorlee says:

    Hi Mercedes,

    Thank you for this wonderful post (series) on the use of technology.

    You validated the inevitability of our need for and use of tech (inviting sharing and curiosity about the different types) while suggesting observation and steps to ensure that it does not take over family life by recommending some routine non-tech family times.

    I also hadn’t heard before of KoalaSafe and look forward to checking this out!

    1. Dorlee, welcome back to the blog! Thanks so much for sharing your insights! I agree that technology is here to stay and we can learn how to integrate into our lives in a healthy way! KoalaSafe is the best software I’ve seen that actually fosters conversation around technology and device usage! Let me know what you think of it if you decide to purchase it! Looking forward to hearing your insights on other posts as well!

  2. Sherry says:

    I love your comment about us not demonising the mum who’s checking her phone while with her children. You’re so right – we don’t always know the background, But I do think there’s definitely an element of society as a whole (not just moms and their kids), becoming less attentive to each other and being less fully present because of technology and social media. I’m hoping to learn loads when I interview Elaine Halligan & Melissa Hood of The Parent Practice on parenting in the digital age. Good tips in your article.

    1. Sherry, welcome to the blog and thanks so much or your insightful comments! I agree that technology has really changed the way we look at relationships and how we connect with one another! I’d love to know when the interview with Elaine and Melissa goes live – I’d share it so others could benefit from the insights in the interview! Thanks for stopping by and hope to read some of your insights on other blog posts!

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