Did you know that the average adolescent between ages 13-18 spends 9 hours each day consuming media?
Technology is a pervasive part of all our lives today. People from infancy to old age, it seems, are almost always surfing Facebook on their smartphones or binge-watching Netflix, spending far less time with each other in conversation and real-life experiences than in the virtual world.
This lack of personal interaction can be damaging, especially to children who are still learning and developing their most basic patterns of living. For this reason, parents should restrict their children’s use of technology.
Time watching television, playing video games, and browsing social media does far less to exercise the brain or to build social skills than do reading, conversation, and engaging in productive activities with family members and friends.
Reading builds the imagination and strengthens a person’s vocabulary better than almost any other activity.
Conversation with loved ones can bring us closer together, allow us stronger interpersonal connection, and give us opportunity to learn from one another.
Doing fun activities with others like hiking, playing a game, fixing up the family car, or cooking a meal all give us shared learning experiences and help us to create memories we will likely think back on fondly.
And, while a family movie night can be a blast, it lacks the potential other things have to be memorable, meaningful experiences.
It may be argued that smartphones, tablets, etc. can be great for education, communication, and entertainment, and all of that is true. There has never been a time in the history of mankind when resources for these things have been so readily available, and in such great abundance. These technologies have played a great part in that and should not be discounted.
However, their value should not be overstated. The fact of the matter is that these technologies often spoon-feed too much to our minds at once, ultimately disengaging our brains even more than sleep does. Also of note, while these things can be great resources for learning, the average person spends several hours daily doing little more than making unhealthy comparisons between their life and others’ lives on social media. With very few exceptions, the costs seem to outweigh the benefits.
In conclusion, although technology is beneficial for many reasons, all of it should be used sparingly and with prudence—especially by our children. If we allow ourselves to step outside the virtual world and into true reality, our learning, self-esteem, and relationships will have greater room to grow.
 From Walker, Coyne, and Memmott-Elison’s paper Media and the Family, currently in review.
Daniel Moster is an office/IT intern at Noetic Psychiatry, who also occasionally moonlights as a writer, mandolin player, and student of Family Life at Brigham Young University. In his free time, he enjoys collecting hobbies, eating sugary foods, and spending time with his beautiful wife and son.