At the beginning of 2020 we were already highly digitalised, but the Coronavirus pandemic has changed our relationship with the technology even further. The stories I hear from people are worrying.
Parents struggle more than ever to mind the children 24/7 and the mobile phone/tablet babysitters are now common sometimes from the toddler age. Many kids have their own phone or tablet for games nowadays and adolescents also spend excessive time alienated on their devices every day.
It must be really hard to parent children these days. My son is a millennial, he’s 30 now and when he was young there was not much available in terms of technology, but today it’s a completely different story.
Some parents does 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 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 8 and he would spend hours on the tablet if allowed. Many friends and clients also struggle to keep their children away from devices. I hear that when they are 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 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 big chunk of work online, I know how hard it is to take your eyes and hands off the devices.
However, as much as I like the benefits of technology and I appreciate it is enhancing our lives, 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 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, talking, gazing into their eyes, touching and laughing together.
Here’s what I’m doing 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; I resist the urge to open the email as soon as it lands in the inbox; I breathe more mindfully; I connect with the others when I am out; and I communicate as much as possible with people around from the real world. Sample these habits and remain curious how they change your life.