A Student’s Plea To Put Down Your Smartphone

tech obsessedJust like most of my peers I grew up playing out side from dusk till dawn, I walked to my friends when I wanted to play and I could talk to my parents freely. 

Unfortunately, that is not the case for this rising generation.  After reading various articles in my English 102 class it became clear that this rising generation is quite the opposite of the one before it.  Where we liked to play outside, this generation prefers the indoors behind the comfort of their various technological screens.  Our parents would have to force us to come indoors to wash up for dinner, unlike now parents often times must force their children outside for some sunlight and fresh air.  

Boy Scouts? “Too Outdoorsy”

Take my six year old brother for example, when my father asked if he would consider joining the boy scouts he refused.  His reasoning, two words, “too outdoorsy.”  What six year old does not want to play around in the woods learning to build stuff?  Another disheartening example that comes to mind is an article that was read in my English 102 class.  When asked, he said he would rather talk to a computer or robot about “the birds and the bees” rather than discuss the topic with his own father.  I know that is a difficult topic but still, the fact that he does not feel comfortable enough to talk with his own father is sad.  Have our communication skills really dropped that low?

This is where things become questionable for me personally.  I will never doubt or disagree that my generation and the one following are losing communication skills because of the fast growth of technology.  It is something that is extremely difficult to avoid, everywhere you turn technology is being used in a different way.  If you want to keep up with the social, economical and even business growth surrounding you, you must be willing to dive right in and join this new wave of technological growth.  Unfortunately, the only people that it seems to be affecting is teenagers and children, or so they say.  The issue is always along the lines of, the more they text the faster they will lose their communication skills. Kids these days will never be successful because they are lacking important people skills.  These statements most often come from the lips of our parent’s generation.

A Generational Problem

What they do not realize or admit is that some of them are at just as much fault as the generation below them.  Another article I read for my English 102 class discussed a technology obsessed middle aged man.  The article explained how his whole family was feeling the effects of his obsession.  He and his wife would often have argument centered around his problem and at one point his daughter even admitted to him not being there for her.  Sadly, I found multiple articles that described similar situations.

The Current State of Communication

This is where my story of technology and communication come into play.  In most cases it is the parents complaining and scolding their children for too much time spent with technology but, in my life the roles are reversed.  A typical evening in my house consists of family dinner on the couch while a re-run of Seinfeld plays, besides laughter in response to the television show there is little talking so the others are not distracted from the show.  No matter how many subtle or bold comments I make about eating as a family around the dinner table the situation does not change. Once the meals are finished the three of us remain in the living room, instead of multi tasking by eating and watching the television my parents are now watching the television while they play on their recently bought IPhones.  Whether it is Bejeweled, Words With Friends, Draw Something, or Facebook they are constantly playing.  Hours after dinner is finished when my mother is in her room watching her television shows and my step-father in the living room watching his I can still hear the dinging and ringing of their games.  They will most times play several of those games against one another so playful “threats” can be heard between them as well.  This is their communication, this is how we communicate.  Sadly, this is even the case if we decide to go out to dinner as a family.  As I sit across the table from my parents at the restaurant there is no talking, only watching them play on their phones.  If I try to create a conversation my words go unheard. 

During class discussions students voice how their families participate in technology free time during dinner or family events, in other situations I have heard teens complain of this but it is something I long for.  I will not put the blame completely on my parents because I will admit to being too preoccupied with my phone when they have asked for a portion of my time.  But most times it seems that I am the only that sees this lack of communication as a problem.

The Technology Divide

Even communication with my father is affected by technology.  In this situation I am thankful for technology.  My father lives in Florida and I in West Virginia.  If it were not for technology I would only see and talk to him on holidays.  While that works for some I could never fathom that.  Though technology hinders one’s ability to communicate, there are ways to work around it if you are willing.  Instead of texting the person … call them. You are not able to see the facial expression but you can hear the warmth in their laughter and the tone of their voice.  There is currently a phone commercial out now and the female on the commercial refers to phone calls as memories when you are separated from some one due to the miles between you.  Like I said you just have to make the effort.

I am not asking for my parents or their generation to give up their technology I am just asking for them to give up a small amount of their time.  I am asking them to invest in their child’s life because they will never know how much their effort means to their children.  I am asking them to stop blaming and start taking some responsibility before it is too late.

4 Comments

  1. Lauren

    November 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Jessica, I’ve faced this reality too: that with the greater amount of technology and modes to communicate, we’re losing true communication.

    Two years ago, I was definitely one of those people who couldn’t stop focusing on screens; I had a desktop computer, an iPad, laptop, and an iPhone at one point and I realized how stupid it was. I’ve since downgraded to just a laptop. My phone makes calls, and that’s all. Call it a ‘dumb’ phone, if you’d like (as opposed to a ‘smart’ phone), but it’s been the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve noticed a change in how I respond and communicate with everyone, especially my family. I feel more fulfilled everyday because I’m not wasting away in front of a screen.

    I’m glad I’m not alone in thinking that technology is starting to hinder our basic human roles in communication. Good luck to you. Cheers.

  2. Jennifer Carey

    November 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    “Time out for your cell phone” has become the “turn off the tv during dinner” of this generation. Distractions have always abounded – books, friends, television, and now the internet. It’s about a healthy balance. And there is that small number of behavior addicts that will arise in any environment (gamblers, shoppers, gamers, etc).
    The problem is the behavior, not the tool.

  3. Nneka Kirkland

    November 14, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I agree! We should take time away from our devices and spend quality time with our family and friends. The constant contact with these devices takes away from the moments and the memories. I wish this article could be posted on billboards across the country!

  4. Liz

    December 5, 2012 at 7:15 am

    re: No matter how many subtle or bold comments I make about eating as a family around the dinner table the situation does not change. Once the meals are finished the three of us remain in the living room, instead of multi tasking by eating and watching the television my parents are now watching the television while they play on their recently bought IPhones.

    I’m afraid subtlety won’t work……maybe you have to make a meal and invite everyone to sit down to eat it! Actions speak louder….. (i myself have recently given up the iPad games and telly for 2 hours each evening and I read and practice the key board instead. There may be a trend going on here!)