As I was recently reflecting during our recent Independence Day celebration, I remembered just how much we have to be thankful for, even if it’s just to live in this country. While yes, we have many obstacles and challenges to work through, at the end of the day, we live in a country where we can openly voice our opinions, go where we please, and live our lives freely. And that’s something to celebrate!
There is, however, a developing problem with our basic freedoms that is steadily distracting us from our families and friends. In many ways, we are more isolated than ever due to the ubiquitous attraction, some may say addiction, to our smartphones.
This Fourth of July, did you take a lot of photos or videos on your smartphone? Many of us did, I’m sure. How much time did you spend sharing those photos to Facebook? How much time was spent posting your fireworks videos to Instagram or commenting to wish your social media “friends” a “Happy Fourth of July!”?
Smartphones are no longer just for talking; they are our connection to family, friends, work… the world is at our fingertips. But, this constant pummeling of information has negatively affected our actual face-to-face dialoguing and human interaction. Though we may be physically present, we are often preoccupied, inattentive, or distant. We are not present, even though we are physically there.
I’m sure you’ve all heard stories or seen viral videos of individuals so fixated on their handheld devices that they run into things, trip, or stumble to the ground. I find it even worse when people are sitting next to each other, but not communicating, because one or both of them are having other ’conversations’ through their smartphones.
Likewise, it’s not actual family time when everyone has a device and they are all doing their own thing (i.e. playing video games, watching videos, etc). You might as well all be in solitary confinement.
Young people, especially children, require social interaction with their families and friends to acquire basic verbal and social skills. Smartphones can’t teach social skills, manners, or how to be a nice human.
While technology offers us many amazing things, it can never be a substitute for your presence, attention, or your smile.
So try taking an occasional break from your phone and encourage an unplugged environment with your family!