At the beginning of 2020 we were already highly digitalised, but the Coronavirus pandemic has changed our relationship with the technology even further. We are now in the 2nd quarter of 2021 and the stories I hear from people are worrying and leave no space for doubt: technology is ravaging our relationships accross all 4 relationship circles.
Parents struggle more than ever to mind their children 24/7 and the mobile phone and tablet babysitters are now common from the toddler age. Many kids have their own phone or tablet for games these days and adolescents also spend excessive time on their devices alienated in their virtual world every day.
It must be really hard to parent young children these days. It was hard on my time too 3 decades ago. My son is a millennial, he’s 31 now, but when he was little I did not have to face this problem as there was not much technology available. The problems started to show up when he was around 10 and glued himself on the computer.
Today, it’s a completely different world. I see parents that do not monitor children’s internet usage or keep the parental control switched off and allow them to browse freely on the web. Combined with the lack of communication and guidance, this invites children to find answers somewhere else, most times following peers or online trends which can be highly detrimental to their wellbeing.
What we’ve created is a world that wires children’s brains (and rewires the brains of the adults too) to have their needs met online and develop connections and attachment more with objects and the artificial world and less with people.
My nephew is nearly 10 and he would spend hours on the tablet if allowed. Many friends and clients also struggle to keep their children away from devices. Research shows that when online, children seem to be fully disconnected from the real world. They do not hear what’s going on around them and they lose track of time. I know that feeling myself as this is not a problem for children only.
Parents and generally adults of all ages also turn to technology to work, unwind, search for news and information and relieve their worries and anxiety. My addiction has always been work and, as a workaholic in recovery doing a large chunk of work online, I know how hard it is to take your eyes and hands off the screen when there is so much work to do.
RELATIONSHIPS SUFFER BECAUSE OF ADDICTION TO TECHNOLOGY
However, as much as I like the benefits of technology and I appreciate it is enhancing our lives on some levels, I cannot ignore its negative impact in our lives. The entire humanity has been trapped in this new digital world that is becoming our main channel for communication and we don’t seem to be able to escape.
More and more clients show signs of addiction to technology and many relationships suffer. The virtual world is clearly more stimulating than the real world and when it hijacks our brains it makes it hard to connect or reconnect with people in the real world. Couples breakup, argue regularly or even divorce because of the amount of time they spend in the virtual world and the little time they spend together.
These days, more than ever, we need to make a conscious effort to adjust our relationship with technology as we go along. It is hard but very possible to develop healthy habits and use these devices for work, communication, learning and fun, but also spare time to engage with people outside of technology, to talk, to gaze into each other’s eyes, to touch and laugh together.
Here’s what I’m doing (with more or less success) to preserve my mental wellbeing:
– I take regular breaks from devices;
– I detox of technology by being in the nature;
– I am learning to change the habit of checking the mobile phone all the time and it’s working (most times lol);
– I resist the urge to open the email as soon as it lands in my inbox;
– I breathe more mindfully;
– I connect with the others when I am out;
– I communicate as much as possible with people in the real world.
My mesage to you is simple: do not let technology ravage your relationships. Try these habits and remain curious of how easily they can change your life.