A family that keeps the phone away, stays together
A thoughtful analysis of how technology can break families.
Ever heard of a boon turning into a bane? There might be a few examples which can be cited for this statement but nothing would be more appropriate than the smartphone.
On April 3, 1973, Motorola employee Martin Cooper stood in midtown Manhattan and placed a call to the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey. The first mobile phone call was made nearly 50 years to date.
The first smartphone, created by IBM, was invented in 1992 and released for purchase in 1994. It was called the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC).
Like many, I started my journey with smartphones way back in the last century through Nokia’s slide-phone which was a craze in those days and slowly graduated to BlackBerry and then got “fevi-stuck” to Apple. Mobile cellular technology was a boon to our lives like never before. You could stay connected permanently with your loved ones. Business decisions never were taken so promptly. People did not have to wait for the opposite person to reach a landline to speak about an urgent matter.
I have dated in times when there was no long-distance calling. Me and my partner had to book trunk-calls and then keep waiting for the operator to get the person on line and call me back and say “talk now”. No messaging services and no emails! Now now, I am no dinosaur era guy 😆 but then it does seem pretty medieval now that I am writing about it 😂
From those days to today, technology has advanced so much that the nearly unimaginable “Star-Trek” phenomenon of teleportation is probably the next big thing coming up. Advancement of mobile phone to smartphone technology has definite advantages in terms of social networking, family connection, finding friends and staying connected — even though virtually but still its a feel good emotion for sure. I still remember years ago, my daughter got her first glasses and I was like, surprisingly now, devastated. I wrote about it on a social networking site and the response I received from known and ‘lesser known’ friends and family was so touching and educating…it does help. You never feel lonely or out of touch. I know social media has its share of evils too, but let’s not go there right now.
Smartphones are addictive. Not only from the messaging or social media context, but games, video-making apps, filter apps for pictures, and even business related chats and emails. It never lets you stay disconnected. It takes a herculean effort to keep the phone away from you — because we staying away from phone is even more difficult 😆. Concepts and theories like ‘family time’, ‘dinner time’, or ‘physical activities time” are now just that — concepts and theories.
And its not easy to just decide one day that I am going to be off all these and become involved with everyone. These ‘everyone’ are still connected and glued to their stupid smartphones, right? Just because you thought of disconnecting, you can’t expect your near and dear ones to do the same.
And another problem — practical too. Children learn so much through the overload of information and knowledge that is available to them on the web. YouTube! Google! Concepts which were so difficult for parents to grasp during their learning years are like cakewalk for these children now because of the audio-visual presentation and multiple ways they get exposed to. Should we stop all this? What about peer-pressure? Are we ready to let our child feel out of place with the rest of the friends? Friends talking about latest trends in fashion or technology, games, music, features of newly launched products, etc. and our child silently being just a spectator and not being able to comment or be a part of the conversation? Hmmm…not me.
Name of the game: moderation. I had written earlier about poison which becomes applicable here too (https://snehalkaria.medium.com/how-would-you-define-poison-bb27a420497c). Whereas smartphone technology helps us in so many different ways, we need to ensure that excess of it’s usage should be avoided. Do these and maybe we can still salvage some of the family time precious to us:
- Keep a bowl or a tray on the dining table and everyone should put their phones in that before starting their dinner.
- Like dinner time and lunch time, define ‘phone times’ a day. Except during these permitted phone times, phones should be prohibited during study time, early morning when they wake up, and when they are about to sleep.
- Let’s understand that people (both kids and adults) feel the need to go to their phones because of lack of stimulation or excitement at home. So let’s work on creating an atmosphere of excitement. Play board games, watch some interesting TV channels, or just engage in talks of common interest.
- Cultivate the concept of hobbies. Sit and discuss amongst each other and identify and follow up on one’s passion. Mobile phones or gadgets cannot be passion 😆, but painting, reading, writing, learning musical instruments, etc. are. Dedicate some time for that.
- Create a system where daily update is received from everyone as to what did they do over the day and what is to be done the next day. Children should feel that parents are involved and interested in their lives and not just providing food shelter and money when needed.
I know every family is different and has their own way of handling their stuff. The above may be taken as family tips and not parenting tips. Because in this topic, all of us are responsible for letting smartphones break our families.
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome 😊