Busy Moms “Get Real” Series, Part 3: When Technology Hurts

Joyful summer laundry. Colorful t-shirts on a laundry line and blue sky.I am astounded by the irony of technology; the advantages are usually proportionate to the harm done to the people for which they were made.

Improving at break-neck speed, technology has enriched our lives in so many ways. We could start with electricity or the washing machine, but recent advancements like instant, fingertip-access to the globe has brought convenience and possibilities never imagined before.

On a personal level, internet access is highly beneficial to our family. It has brought new dimensions and possibilities to homeschooling where the pioneers had little more than paper and pencil with which to work. It is entirely possible to access a rich education for free, if one so desires.

It also allows us home-business opportunities, given the world-wide market now at our fingertips, where once a business was limited to the short arm of its local community.

Recipes, medical advice, help diagnosing ailments, “how-to” anything, sharing our lives with friends and relatives across the world…all in seconds. “Google it” is a household term. Our lives have been revolutionized by the Internet.

But the technology brings a host of trouble with it.

I remember reading a story to my children about the debut of the telephone in homes. The father in the story was livid at the idea that he was expected to have a device through which people could intrude on his personal, family time at any hour of the day. How far we’ve come.

For most, there is no place, no time that affords privacy, free from at least the possibility of interruption, the pressure of answering or texting. If a person CAN be reached, we expect them to answer us–without waiting.

And it’s not just our time that is bombarded. Facebook–ah, where do we begin? It’s addictive because we are all voyeurs at heart ;-). Peering into the lives of other people without being seen–doesn’t that draw us?

And we’re narcissists too. Why else would we “exhale” in public and then check every few minutes to see how many people “like” it?

We build fake farms, plant fake gardens and maintain fake relationships until we have little time for anything real.

What about information overload? And what does it do to us, emotionally, now that we inadvertently share the grief and strains of our “friends of friends of friends” in addition to our own real life?

Blogging, tweeting, sharing, surfing…

Then there’s texting, perhaps the most intrusive of all technology. It physically endangers drivers, pedestrians, and in general, leaves masses of people only barely tuned in to the world around them. In a culture where strained relationships are already a monumental problem, texting might be the nail in the coffin.

It is common for every member of the house to own a phone with texting capabilities. It is common to see a family sharing dinner, oblivious to each other, oblivious, even to the food they are supposed to be savoring, having lost all concept of the relaxing, connecting potential of a shared meal.

There are so many levels of harm it would take a book to develop the issues. No time for thinking, creating, imagining, dreaming, problem-solving–the constant connection to some device robs us of fundamental living!

There is advantage in moderation, in carefulness, in deliberate use and in a whopping measure of self-control.

But it’s time to recognize the danger, the subtlety, and refuse to allow ruin to come to our families just because it has become “normal”. It’s time to create protective boundaries around our relationships and fight with vengeance, anything that threatens to harm them. It’s time to look up, into the faces of those we love and remember that our lives will be more enriched by that than by the latest Facebook status.

I’m speaking to me, to you, to all of us.

A family in tact, building healthy bonds, spending time sharing their lives through conversation and focused attention is now in the minority.

Will you be one?

Part 1:  Margins

Part 2: Housework, Again?

Part 4:  Children Are More Than an Organizational Problem

Part 5: I Can’t Get it All Done!”

24 Responses to “Busy Moms “Get Real” Series, Part 3: When Technology Hurts”

  1. Kelly L says:

    Agreed that this one is the hardest you have posted. the computer is a time sucker for me sometimes.

    The phone? not so much. I have a policy that no one other than my household has a “right” to me on demand. If I am busy, or just don’t want to talk, I don’t answer.

    Really good points!

  2. Erin says:

    That is why Facebook is out of my life! What a time waster! Too bad Pinterest has replaced it. Great post.

  3. 6 arrows says:

    EXCELLENT, excellent post, Kelly! This one really spoke to me.

    Having internet at home this year for the first time has been a real blessing AND a true challenge for me at the same time. It’s so convenient not to have to run to the library every time I need to research something (and it seems there’s always something new to research when raising a big family!) But it’s been such a challenge for me to say “enough” to the constant search for just the right information to solve this or that or the other problem. Too much time on the computer, even in the name of “doing this for the family,” does nothing to enhance relationships, I have learned through experience, unfortunately. Time with my family and the Lord has suffered because that computer with internet access stares me in the face, and there’s no one-hour time limit per day like at the library. You are right, Kelly, that a whopping measure of self-control makes a difference in whether internet is beneficial or problematic.

    Thank you for the exhortation to build healthy bonds in my family, sharing life through conversation and focused attention. You have really blessed me with this post. Now it’s time for me to go be a blessing to my family!

  4. Ginger says:

    I really wish we could get rid of home internet, but there’s just no way. There’s too many things that are such a huge help to us– our homeschool planner/organizer is online, banking is online (otherwise I’d have to call to find out my balance {gasp!}), and several curricula are online.
    But instant info is a real struggle for me. I LOVE it! There’s no more “I wonder if that was the same actor we saw in that other movie?” Now it’s “I’ll go look it up real quick”. ha! It’s never that quick!
    And I have tried all the internet protection programs (Safe Eyes, Net Nanny, etc) and none of them are set up to let me just get on certain sites at certain times of day. I need my homeschool planner all day, but I don’t want to have easy access to everything else during the day (blogs, youtube, etc). But alas, there’s no such program. sigh.

  5. Linda says:

    This summer we stopped to eat at a restaurant after a 10 day camping trip. As we looked around us we saw families all around us, and none of them were talking to eachother. They all had their noses to their phones: facebooking, ebaying, windowshopping. I felt physically ill as I observed. I made a decision to only check in to limit my facebook/internet time for my children’s sakes because of the example they will learn from.
    Thank you for reminding us all.

  6. Rachael says:

    I’m working hard to limit my online time these days. My little boy is far more deserving of my time. I’m trying to get up the boldness to say to my neighbor,when she is over, to turn off the phone. I want to say to her “put the phone away and stop texting. The here and now is far more important than anything on that phone. Your daughter and I are more deserving of your attention than that phone.” We’ll see if I can say it.

  7. That telephone story sounds very intriguing. You don’t happen to know where you got it from? I’d love to share it with my kids during school someday.

    • Word Warrior says:

      Bethany,

      Do you know I’ve looked for it several times, with no success. I’m pretty sure I read it out of an older literature book (one of the thick ones with lots of short stories) but which one escapes me–sorry!

  8. When I deactivated my Facebook account I was ashamed at how often I went to check it just out of habit only to remember I had gotten rid of it. After a few days (and still) I felt like a huge burden had been lifted! I spent too long describing my addiction to Facebook as a “ministry”.
    I liked this quote, “It’s addictive because we are all voyeurs at heart 😉 . Peering into the lives of other people without being seen–doesn’t that draw us?” I would venture to say it is true because we all have an “Eve” nature. Wanting to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good/evil. (That’s a mouthful!) We want to know things only God should really know about a situation or person.

  9. Natalie says:

    Great post! Just had to share it on Facebook. ; ) Here’s my solution: I don’t take “friends” there…and that has helped tremendously. I do have my parents, sisters, nieces and nephews, but honestly…I find the “conversations” so dull, that it doesn’t tempt me. FB is a great tool if you have a business or a ministry. But yes…I signed up almost three years ago with both my married name and my maiden name…and my life immediately became very complicated as I tried to navigate all the new “connections” with people I had known from the past. After two weeks of total nightmare…I quit FB. I ended up signing up again under an alias to get our business page on there…and more recently, switched to my real name (married only) for the sake of the ministry I’m involved in. The internet can be a fabulous tool for Dominion…but you made some excellent “pointy points” about the equally powerful danger involved.

  10. Let me tell you a recent story about the dangers of technology when we parents do not put enough limits.
    One of my friends has a 13 year old daughter who is very very pretty.This girl has been suspended 5 days from school. why? a boy she knows sent to her blackberry (yes, 13 yrs. and has a blackberry!) a picture of himself… completely naked. she forwarded the picture to more girls in her class till a teacher discovered that.
    my friend was very upset. but what can you expect when your very attractive 13 yrs old daughter has a FB account with more than 100 friends, a blackberry and is a cheerleader? In cheerleading is where she met that boy, from a different school, a private catholic one.
    i told my friend that i do not like cheerleading because the girls are exhibiting themselves, and that she had to control more the phone and the way her daughter dresses, etc.
    and all that happened in a very nice neighbourhood, middle upper class.

    • Kelly L says:

      Carolina, that is horrible. I agree with you that the parents are responsible to protect their kids by limiting potentially harmful influences. But FB, the blackberry nor her attractiveness is to blame.

      My daughter also has a FB account (highly limited and monitored) and has had boys whistle or wave to her more than I like (once is too many) when we are out. She refuses to think this behavior is acceptable; in fact, after she gets mad, I try to remind her to pray for them because they have not been taught better.

      We have taught her that purity and holiness are not just words. They are expectations by us and by God. She is an amazing young Christian, intent on following the Lord. Because of her faith, she has a lower risk of falling victim to that. But constant parenting and a personal relationship with God are the keys against falling into temptation.

      I believe, for some people, that FB or other things are too tempting for their walk. But even then, their own heart is the seed of that problem.

  11. Mrs. Santos says:

    This is so good and such a needed message. The children and I are working at the farm selling pumpkins 3 days a week. It is HARD and pleasant at the same time. Hard because there is no computer and no phone. We don’t have a cell. But, it is pleasant because we sit quietly, we listen to music, we read books, do school work, memorize scripture. At least five hours is spent this way in between talking to customers and pulling a few weeds. It makes for a slow pace, but life is deeper and richer for it.

  12. Cathy says:

    I agree, we don’t facebook, twitter, or text. Luckily we don’t get cell service at the house (too rural) so the cell phones (4 drivers share 3 phones) are only for on the road emergencies. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

  13. Kelly says:

    Whoa, this one hit home. Hard. We do not have Internet access at home except on our phones, so we seem to constantly have phone in hand. My older daughter does have her own phone (at 16), but my younger children do not, even though they claim EVERYONE has one. I’m holding out as long as possible. Facebook is not as big an addiction for me now as it used to be, but I haven’t deactivated my account yet (I really post pictures for long distance family to view). Texting is my problem, which I’m working on. At one point, my husband and I talked more via text message than we did in person. My husband jokingly calls me a Ludite, which isn’t quite true…but tv, computers, phones…the world’s gone mad, and I am trying to teach my children self control in all areas, including technology.

  14. Shirley says:

    Thank you.
    I needed to hear this and will take it to heart.
    Just started a blog and can’t believe how drawn I am to spending time there, this is new to me.
    Your words are from the Lord and I thank you for being faithful in sharing them
    Shirley from Virginia

  15. Janelle says:

    I find it ironic that at the bottom of this post it says, “SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE”!! Great, great post! I really want to get rid of Facebook, but I have some friendships I’ve had for a really long time that I know would disappear into oblivion if I quit altogether. It’s something I really need to pray about because I really feel the need to unplug in so many ways.

  16. Lisa says:

    As a military wife far from home, I struggle with how much time I spend online. We use absolutely no social media (like Facebook or twitter) and my children are not allowed free use of the computer. As homeschoolers, I usually use it as a reward maybe once a month for good schoolwork, etc. And compared to many other families that we know, I feel like we are “behind the times” . The hardest part for me is my limited time with friends. I just plain feel lonely at times and found so much encouragement from your blog and others to stay the path we feel that the Lord has led us to in growing our family and Homeschooling. I try to stay in touch with family using email as a letter, but know I miss out on so much by not using FB. I feel this is a battle for our families and for the minds of our children.

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