Alluring technology can restrict people from spending family time

Spending family time has taken a back seat with a generation gap taking place between elders and youngsters.

Two years back, I was having dinner at one of the restaurant in Mumbai with my family, when I happened to glance at the table diagonal to ours. There were four of them: the parents and their two children, but the thing that saddened me was that they were as good as they had come alone! The children each had a tablet in their hands, while the parents were also into their mobile phones. One question instantly popped in my head- Are we human beings no more qualified to be a good company?! Such spending family time was being eaten up by the alluring technology! That is just one such incident. I am sure many of us have bumped into such zombies whose head remain immersed into their cell phones day and night thinking for spending family time with close ones.

After this incident, I wanted to check where I am! Was I too in the process of becoming a zombie?! So, I tried a challenge, which I thought was not very difficult initially. I decided I would not use my whatsapp messenger once a week. Well of course it was not oxygen that I could not live without! Ek din me kya ho jayega.But to my shock, I was completely disappointed in me at the end of the day! Not feeling my phone vibrate or ring that often, made me feel incomplete. I thought I was missing out on some information, gossip or news (which of course, I knew was of no great importance!) I felt the urge to keep checking my phone once in every ten minutes which was becoming difficult to hold back from spending family time with loved ones!!

Technology is remarkable! No doubt about it. But the way we have made it our life (yes we have unfortunately), is no less than an addiction to drugs. Here, I would like you all to take a small test of spending family time. Try this challenge tomorrow. Just observe:-

A) How much time do you spend with your phone in the whole day?
B)  And on what? On social media, games, gossips, business, surfing information, etc.
C) List down and classify whether the time spent on the certain item was avoidable or not. (based on the importance of the matter) and has it added value to you in any way?
D) If it was avoidable, then what else could have been done in that time which would have been valuable?
Try this honestly and check where you fall. If you feel you need to save yourself from converting into a zombie, then keep scrolling.

Why is that whenever we are a bit free, we sign a haaashh…, sprawl on the sofa and keep checking our phones? We feel as if we have been cut out of the world like for some years and need to be back on track again ASAP!
I remember, when I was a child, my favorite pastime would be playing ghar ghar and making chai in my own kitchen. Today, children know how to operate smart phones. No, it’s not a miracle. Children are great observers. We have observed our mothers working in kitchen and making chai. We imitated. Today, from the day the child is born, we have flaunted our selfie taking abilities in front of them, and they are great learners. How does a child learn how to walk? Observation! Simple. And when almost 90% of the adults in this world know how to operate a smart phone, it can’t be that difficult to learn. Isn’t it? The technicians have made it that simple and it’s not that the kids have extra neurons inbuilt in them to crack the latest technology on how to operate a smart phone!

You might moot on a point that what are we today without the internet? I completely agree on it. On the click of button the whole world can unite today. How lovely is it when we can speak to our far away relatives across the globe! I cannot forget the glow I see on my mom’s face when she chats with her long lost friends! There is infinite source of information available in a fraction of second. But everything is beautiful within limits. Author Andrew Keen mentions in his book “The Internet is NOT the answer” about ‘Vicarious’ –an artificial intelligence company, where its founder- Scott Phoenix aims at creating a computer that thinks like a person…except that it doesn’t have to sleep.” It will then perform all the jobs that a human being can. However, what Phoenix fails to explain is what exactly human beings will do with themselves all day when every job is performed by Vicarious!

One day when I was going out, my mom asked me to get some 8-10 items from a shop. I immediately took my cell phone out, and started noting it down in Notes application. My mom chided about this generation which can’t remember even 10 items! Or is it just me who is losing on the memory?! On another such occasion I realized I was too much dependent on the calculator, that I felt like a handicap, while my grandfather mentally calculated that sum in a second. We are trying to simplify the simplest things, which is demeaning our existence! This is the reason I guess why most of us lack the decision or risk taking ability these days. Because we are too dependent on the machines! We trust the machines but not our logic or experience. We are unable to spill out our decision loud and clear unless backed up by the machines!

A blog- Alzheimer.net published about an eye opening study in Seoul, Korea- which revealed that people spending more than 7 hours a day attached to their I pads, smart phones, computers and gaming consoles are proving damaging to their brains. Its termed as ‘Digital Dementia, which is a short term memory dysfunction. Haven’t you noticed that the count of the sparrows have come down in a drastic way? One fine day my dad suddenly asked me this, while I took some time out from my mobile and looked up at him with a weird expression ‘What?’ Then I obviously googled it, what I found was quite shocking-the reason being the high radiation from the mobile towers pass through the bird’s body and burn their brains off! Imagine what would be happening to our brain while we are constantly in contact with the mobile 24*7! So much so that we keep the mobiles near our head, almost making it our pillow! That day I ran and kept my phone in a different room than that I was sleeping. Yeah, I have a habit of overdoing sometimes.

The social media becomes one such nuisance when it is used in excess. People have learnt the art of playing in sham. One will easily send a friend request online and chat in the facade but don’t know what to do if they actually sit face to face! It’s such a disgrace to a human. Our happiness in the day lingers around the likes that we receive on the picture (read edited picture) uploaded. It doesn’t make sense to me when people check in their status as- @ the airport, or having lunch or dinner at blah blah restaurant, or watching a particular movie in a particular theater etc etc. I mean how does it matter to thousands others?! Finally I got to a conclusion. It can be either of the two things- to make the rest envious, or to have a constant approval from others on what one is doing in his life. This has snatched the confidence of youngsters as ever! And the rest fall under the unending cycle of trying to pace his life with all the others. Of course, it will never be fully content. There is hardly anything that remains private now in one’s life because everything is edited and posted!

Maria Konnikova, a blog writer for “The New Yorker “ expresses in one of her post, the result of one of the researches on the impact of social media in our lives-“that college students start going ‘crazy’ after just a few minutes in a room without their phones or computer.  If the phone is near us and pings, our hands become fidgety to check the phone immediately! We have forgotten how to entertain ourselves without the machines! Whenever we have downtime, the Internet is an enticing, quick solution that immediately fills the gap. We get bored, look at the social media apps and become more bored.” This is because we keep comparing our lives with those thousands on the media, start feeling lonely and get depressed when we find ourselves not keeping in pace with theirs.

Now that we know the side effects of the digital media having in our life, let’s see how and what can we do to come out of it and take the best out of it. Check these out and you can find some more  yourself too!

Reach out to your mobile half an hour after you wake up and put it aside half an hour before you sleep.

The one hour saved here can be replaced by a more peaceful sleep (since nothing is running in your mind about outside world in that gap of half an hour), family time, watching the sun rise or taking some deep breath to help you go through the day with less anxiety once you take the mobiles in your hand. Since you are disconnected with the world for that one hour, you will see you will also fall asleep sooner than usual!

Practice doing the simple things all by yourself. (stick to it even when it takes more time)
Like next time if you are into a calculation -say 24*152, and you are not equipped with your calculator, don’t panic!  You can calculate yourself! You will feel way more confident!

If likes are important to you, then focus more on how many people you meet really like you, rather than the social media likes.
If the people around you are not happy meeting you, then how does it matter even if you get a 100 likes by some random strangers?

Replace your free time with other activities.
The next time you find yourself free, instead on pouncing on your phone, start doing something more productive. Like, catching up with your colleague, or neighbor, enroll yourself into a dance class that was long thought for or some lawn tennis lessons, or reading a book or even writing whatever is running in your mind.

Limit the time for playing games, or surfing on social media.
Like I said, everything within limit is appreciable. You have to decide the limits yourself and well before it becomes an addiction!

Stop gawking into your cell phones when your close ones are in front of you.
That is unbearably irritating!
That is a complete private time with your family and relatives or friends and it can’t be more insulting that you choose the company of your cell phone over them!

Eat only to the extent you can digest and the same goes with the information on internet.
Sometimes the solution becomes the problem. The internet is the answer for some of our problems till it itself becomes the problem. The vast available information and easy accessibility is a deadly combination! The moment one has a question as petty as-‘who is the actor in the last movie you saw?’ instead of trying to remember it yourself, you Google it! Yes, once again I have become a victim to that one. Actually, almost all the examples that I have quoted are tried and tested on me. There is so much information and data available that you want to know them all at once and look cool in front of your peers. But is it humanly possible? At the same time, it turns out a beautiful thing when being used in a limited and a productive way during spending family time.

Stop treating your phone as your soul mate!
A phone is just a phone till you assume it to be your soul mate. It’s just a phone and you need not carry it with you always. Take spending family time out and leave your phone away from you at least for some time. May be an hour or so. Take a walk in the nature without the phone. It will help you not to be occupied unnecessarily and let your mind relax. Trust me the world will be the same after that one hour of spending family time making it better. helping you think uncluttered regarding spending family time.

All said and done, if we don’t work on it, it will be just one more thing read on the internet which didn’t add any value. So, work on it. Think and analyze for yourself and develop that much needed art of self control for your own good. Let us be human beings who control machines and not the other way round when it comes to spending family time!

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