The Effect Technology Use Has on Our Lives and Relationships
Recently, I attended a presentation discussing video game and internet addictions. What was most interesting to me was the impact technology use has on kids, teens, and young adults’ developing minds. When using technology, we miss out on many of the key aspects of healthy relationships—physical touch, intimacy, being fully known by others (rather than choosing what we share about ourselves), and shared emotional experiences. Each and every one of us need these aspects in our lives and relationships. This makes it is especially important to begin thinking about how much we allow technology to be a part of our lives (and in what ways) and the lives of our children.
Technology and Education
Over-using technology can cause emotional and relational damage, yet it can also be used in a positive way, for example, to stimulate our learning. Many school districts are now giving iPads and other tablets to their students to use for learning in class, as well as to complete their homework. One of these school districts, the Minnetonka Public Schools, explains their use of technology: “With iPads, the Internet, Google Docs, Schoology, and more at their fingertips, students can share ideas with classmates, receive immediate teacher or peer feedback, and make the learning material their own.” Schools, like the Minnetonka Public Schools, see technology as an aid to learning and a way to boost their students’ personal involvement in their educational experiences.
Differing Values Between School Policy and Parents
For kids, teens, and young adults, it is clear that using technology has both its benefits and drawbacks. Although schools are beginning to use technology within the classroom, most often they still provide a strict cell phone policy that prohibits students from using their phones in class. However, schools are finding that many parents are telling their kids to keep their cell phones on them at all times. So, how do schools respect parents’ desires for their children to bring their cell phones with them wherever they go, most likely for concerns about their kids’ safety and to keep their kids from losing or having their phones stolen?
On the other side of things, there are some parents who try to limit the amount of screen-time for their kids. This becomes more complicated with the schools requiring their students to use iPads and tablets to complete their homework. So, how do parents balance their children’s education with family values of limiting screen-time?
Collaboration and Communication is Key
It is important that both parents and schools remember what matters most—the health, safety, and education of the students. Schools and parents must have open communication about expectations and how specific situations both in school and at home will be handled. Through this, schools and parents can help develop a balance between family values regarding technology use at home and school policies of how technology is and is not to be used during the school day. How have you seen the impact of technology on your own kids and family? What are the ways you have worked to provide balance between family values and school policy?
 Matthew Meyers, M.A., LMFT – Traverse Counseling and Consulting