“When families disconnect, they connect.” That was the closing statement of the viral video that featured frustrated Australian mothers reclaiming dinnertime with the help of the Dolmio Pepper Hacker, a device to shut down all other devices for that quality time with loved ones. While people praise the increasing capabilities of our smart devices, they continue to blame technology for the diminishing face-to-face interaction, creating a divide in relationships with our loved ones. Mobile internet has allowed us to virtually connect with smartphone users all over the world, but others argue that our gadgets are the culprit for the lack of communication at home.
Is it fair to blame technology for this disconnect? Not really. It’s unfortunate that smartphones often take the hit for something that can easily be fixed with usage limits, such as no phones or tablets at the dining table, when in reality technology was never intended to hinder the development of familial ties. When used correctly, its benefits exceed the disadvantages, helping us bridge connections with family members, friends and relatives that wouldn’t have been possible without a little help from our social networking and texting apps.
Take a look at the story of the long lost sisters that made headlines last month in the UK. It was reported that Elaine Walker and Jackie Green discovered they were sisters after nine years of being online bingo buddies and finally finding each other on Facebook. The two were separated at infancy and adopted into different families, and against all odds, they reunited with the help of the internet.
Our phones and tablets have given us multiple channels to bridge communications with others from afar, but what some don’t realize is that they’re also capable of bringing people in the same household closer together. Other than being able to join group chats and sign up for apps like Google Calendar which the Family Online Safety Institute recommends so that everyone stays in the loop, parents claim they see more of their kids and their partners because of their smart gadgets. In previous years, kids might be locked up in their rooms with their father watching TV and their mother reading in the den, though oddly enough having their own devices have led to do all the things they love in the same room. They may not be talking as much, but the physical presence is a feat and makes spending time with the family a little more appealing.
In the grand scheme of things, face-to-face communication will always be cherished over digital interaction, so make sure that you maintain a balance between the two.