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The Impact of Technology on the Family – 4th Industrial Revolution

Publishing Date : 16 April, 2018

Author :

BOITSHEPO BOLELE

Internationally, statistics indicate that teenagers and receive around 3,700 texts a month - that's about 125 a day! We could assume these are innocent texts to family members. We cant run away from the fact that no matter the risks, technology does have its benefits e.g:
Coordination of busy schedules: No more stranding a child at school -  text/sms, phone or e-mail lets someone know plans have changed.


Safety: In a crazy world, you want to know where your family is and that they have a way to reach in trouble. A "new connectedness": Texting has opened doors between parents and teens; textting gives teens "optimal distance" from parents, allowing for communication that wouldn't happen otherwise. However, there's no doubt technology within family life has its conflicts. And the conflicts have only increased as the Internet and social media have joined distractions such as TV, the cell phone and the computer.


Kids who get too much "screen time" -- through watching lots of TV, surfing the social media and playing video games -- tend to perform poorly at school. When one watches TV or play video games – there is that heightened excitement or "stimulus surge”. With too much screen time, kids get desensitized and can't focus on something like a book without that super-stimulating effect. Some studies have found a link between video games and decline in reading skills;


It is evident that the desire to play video games just surpassed the time kids devote to reading and writing, thus bringing down their abilities. So, what's a parent to do, especially with computers a part of school curriculum these days? Limit screen time, especially if computer homework is a part of their evening. Talk with and read to your children -- along with the quality time spent, this puts your kids in a language-rich environment.


Children are not the only culprits: between responding to e-mails during kids' activities, texting at meals, and constant phone time while driving, parents use technology almost as much as teens. This dynamic creates feelings of jealousy and distress in children since they now have to compete for both their parents' time and focus.


A benefit of a family is that children learn the give and take of society -- how to interact with other people, the importance of the individual and the group, and how to communicate. However, with the inundation of technology in all facets of life, parents run the risk of raising a generation who can't relate to other people.


Children with unlimited gaming, computer and TV time may not get enough interpersonal face-to-face interaction needed to develop proper social skills.  A Wall Street Journal article called this "silent fluency," the ability to read cues like tone, body language and facial expressions. E-mail and texts don't convey empathy, tone or subtext the way face-to-face or phone conversations do. While the effects are still being quantified, the digital generation is at risk to lose their silent fluency abilities.


Larry Rosen, a well-known psychologist, has studied the psychology of Facebook interaction and feels that while it can be good practice for introverted kids to get comfortable talking to peers, it is no substitute for real-world interaction. "Our study showed that real-world empathy is more important for feeling as though you have solid social support," he writes. "Although those who had more virtual empathy did feel more socially supported, the impact was less than the real-world empathy."


So, if your child seems to spend most of her time on social media or texting, encourage her to talk to or make plans with friends. Or at least, with you. Once upon a time, a family's biggest technological nuisance was the phone ringing late at night. School stayed at school, work stayed at work, and those boundaries weren't crossed except in an emergency.


That was then; this is now. For adults, work doesn't end just because you leave the office; in fact, companies equip their people with smart phones and laptops so employees are accessible 24/7. Physicians are used to getting emergency calls, but now there are insurance emergencies, technology emergencies, sales emergencies, accounting emergencies and the list continues. Likewise, schools send out e-mails – announcements about homework and events -- so kids are getting "business" as well as social messages when they're at home.


Once the walls between home and the outside world come down, it's hard to build them back up again
More than ever before, parents have to encourage, or even force their children to get outside and play. Kids spend more time inside because of school, homework, working parents and other factors dictating their schedules, but when they have free time, how do they spend it?


However, parents can manage their kids' "inside" time much like their screen time. Encourage outdoor time, and stick to it, otherwise we are raising a generation that is disconnected from nature and real community. Sending your kids outside while you sit inside and text or send e-mails just "sends" the wrong message.


Hlanganani ICT Botswana is a BQA Accredited ICT Institute located at Unit 21 THE OFFICE Fairgrounds. For more discourse on Digital Disruption in the Botswana Context, Contact Boitshepo Bolele on 3980483/ 3132255/ 72537788 or email boi.bolele@gmail.com

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