Less is More when it comes to Technology and Family


Too Much TechnologyI don’t watch TV very often but the last 2 days I haven’t been feeling 100% so I’ve been taking some breaks to rest.

Yesterday I watched Oprah and she was featuring a family who is feeling overwhelmed with life and disconnected from each other. Peter Walsh the author of It’s All Too Much was asked to step in and help this family. He did what he calls a “strip down” and took away the family’s electronics for a week. No cell phones, no email, no video games, no TV, no internet and even no microwave. The reason for no microwave was to get the family to cook healthy meals together. He also had them declutter their house and get rid of all the excess.

You can probably guess what happened. After one week of being unplugged and living in an organized home the family was happier and feeling more connected. The teenager even seemed to feel a bit of relief from taking a break from texting 24/7. He talked about how he wanted to spend more time with his 5 year old brother who previously he had basically ignored.

My daughter takes her cell to the bathroom with her! Are we ever really unplugged these days? We’ve had to make a rule in our house that cell phones and laptops are charged in our bedroom every night otherwise the teenagers will stay up all night texting. I’m a big advocate for getting the right amount of sleep; I believe it helps kids with their attitudes, grades, moods and life in general. I’m amazed how many parents let their children stay up all night. But I digress… back to the topic. Do kids even know how to unplug these days? Do we know how to unplug?  Does the thought of living without your internet and cell phone for a week cause a minor panic attack?

Last week I attended an award ceremony recognizing local volunteers. One of the award categories was for teen volunteers. The speaker said the difference between these teens that are being recognized today and the other teens are the ones here today chose to look out in to the world instead of looking down at their cell phones. They looked out, saw the world, saw things that needed to be changed and decided to do something about it.

I think we could all benefit from taking some time to look out instead of always looking down at our screens.

Recently a teenage boy I know was looking forward to spending a special day with his dad. It was going to be just him and his dad. He was looking forward to this time since he didn’t usually get to spend much quality time with his dad who was always so busy with work.  After the day passed I asked this boy how his special day was. He said it wasn’t very special because it felt more like he was just observing his dad having a special day with his Blackberry. He said his dad was so busy updating his Facebook status and texting with friends and colleagues he pretty much forgot to pay attention to him.

I’m seriously considering creating a new rule for my family. If you are in my car NO texting and No phone calls. Remember when driving time was quality time with your kids? It was maybe the one time they actually opened up and told you about their day. Now, I just feel like an ignored bus driver while my family texts/chats away with their friends.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this post. I’m just noticing all these technological tools and devices that are supposed to create connections may be creating disconnections with the ones we love the most.

Are you feeling connected or disconnected with the real live people in your world today?

7 thoughts on “Less is More when it comes to Technology and Family

  1. Justin

    I personally feel connected, but as usual, I think it all depends.

    In my case, I connect via technology because there aren’t a lot of people for me to connect with offline. I work from home, and don’t do business with anyone locally, I work odd hours, usually at night, and there really isn’t much to do within 40 miles – this is a “Want to go to Walmart?” area. Beyond that, I don’t really want connections here – connections have to be broken when you leave, and I want out of here enough that I’d sell my mother to Satan if he offered a good price. (Not that I wouldn’t do that on an average day anyway, but I digress.)

    So, for me, it’s the opposite – I’m disconnected when I turn off the technology. We lost power for a week last January due to a storm – while other people were coming together like the family you mentioned, I was doing filing, just so I’d have something to do. If I didn’t have my technology-assisted connections – you guys – I’d be staring at the wall right now – or banging my head against it.

  2. Jaime

    Sally, I love this post. I wish the world could just slow down for a minute.

    You might not believe this, but over the weekend I started thinking about getting rid of our microwave. It takes up a ton of room on my counter and I don’t use it more than once a week or so, and that’s just to heat up leftovers which I could easily do in the oven.

    Then I started thinking about how many people can’t live without microwaves so maybe I’d be foolish to get rid of mine. Totally herd of sheep thinking.

    I don’t need a microwave. I’m never in that much of a rush. I think you’ve inspired me to actually remove it from my kitchen and see what happens.

    Thanks Sally!

  3. Sally Post author

    @Jaime – maybe you could donate you microwave to someone that really needs it.

    @Justin – I have other friends that live in a “Want to go to Walmart?” kind of place and you guys all crack me up. I don’t even have a Walmart here but I totally get what you are saying.

    I don’t think we should get rid of technology all together, just think some of us (myself included) maybe need to pay attention to where we are spending all of our time.

    I’m glad you are online at nights otherwise Twitter would be so boring in the evenings. 😉

    Sounds like you need to move… what are you waiting for? You work virtually…

    Connections don’t necessarily need to be broken when you leave, that is what Facebook and Twitter are for.

  4. Justin

    Yes, I do need to move, and I’m primarily waiting on my bank account. 🙂

    I moved home to help my parents a few years ago, and when I did, I got rid of everything – I didn’t need or have room for a house worth of furniture. (Of course, I kept some things.) Furnishing a house from scratch is really, really expensive, and particularly so if you do it right, which is what I intend to do. When I say furnishing from scratch, I mean that there is a brand new desk in the foyer waiting to come up here, and that’s the largest piece of furniture I have.

    I’ve done the “college apartment” thing where everything is thrown together and you’re too embarrassed to have anyone over, and I’m not doing it again – if it can’t be done right, I’m not doing it. If stay here, my monthly expenses are in the hundreds and savings are in the thousands – if I move somewhere now, my expenses would be in the thousands and savings in the hundreds, if I’m lucky. So I stay, and wait for the bank account to grow. 🙂

  5. Sally Post author

    Justin – sounds like you are making a wise decision to save money now.
    Couldn’t you buy your new furniture at Walmart? 😉

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