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How Technology’s Changing Our Relationships

One of our fundamental desires, as humans, is to connect with other humans. I call it “Vitamin C”- connection. It’s a universal need to connect. From the moment we’re born, we want (and need) to connect with other humans. We’re literally wired to connect and interact.

 

So it’s not surprising that the neuroscience confirms that forming relationships and strong attachments to parents and/or caregivers is absolutely vital for optimal development.  It’s essential that babies, toddlers and young children form healthy, reliable and consistent relationships.  It literally builds their brain architecture.

 

But in this digital age, there’s a multitude of screens and gadgets that are vying for our attention and are subsequently changing the way that we form and maintain relationships.

 

And because our devices are now omnipresent, they’re literally everywhere we turn, we often disregard their impact.  And it’s often the simple things that we overlook.

 

Is our compulsion to check social media on our smartphone infuriating our children? Are we “sharenting” and oversharing our children’s developmental milestones? Are we publicising their tantrums online and curating unfavourable images or videos of them, that will embarrass them later in life?

 

Technology can both support and stifle our capacity to connect build authentic relationships with others. When it’s used in the right ways, technology can certainly help us to build and sustain important relationships.

 

For example, many modern families have family members that live overseas, or parents that have to travel for work. Thanks to advances in communication technologies like Skype and Face Time, we now have a range of ways of connecting in real-time. And this can be a great way to build and sustain relationships (and yes, Skype is a great communication tool. The research proves it!).

 

However, if we don’t use technology in healthy and sustainable ways we can potentially hamper our capacity to build relationships with our children. And we can also impact our children’s capacity to form healthy relationships with others (remember they copy everything!).

 

As I’ve said before, technology’s neither good nor bad. It really depends on how it’s used.

 

So in this podcast I outline some possible ways that technology can impact on our capacity to build relationships.

 

 

Here’s a summary of the main points I share in this podcast:

 

I discuss some of the ways that technology can hamper children’s relationships and ability to connect with others, especially their parents and/or carers:

  1. “Techno-glect”: This is a phenomenon that describes parents or carers that are constantly consumed with their digital devices, so much so that their children feel neglected or overlooked. I’m not suggesting that we should never use our phone or tablet around our children, but we just need to be mindful that it doesn’t dominate our time when we’re with our children.
  2. Self-regulation: Is technology always used as the “digital pacifier” so that we effectively suppress children’s emotions, instead of teaching them how to regulate their more difficult emotions (frustration, boredom, tiredness)?
  3. FOMM- Fear of Making Memories: Susan Pearse suggests that as a society that we’re more concerned with capturing digital memories, rather than making and storing our own memories to our personal hard-drive.here are concerns that our camera-obsession means that we’re not really experiencing the moment at hand.
  4. “Sharenting”: are you over-sharing your parenting moments or your child’s milestones online? Remember, we’re creating a digital footprint for our children and some things may be better kept private.
  5. Techno-Shaming: Are you embarrassing or inadvertently humiliating your child via your social media posts and images?

 

In the comments below I’d love to know, if you’ve observed changes in how technology is changing your relationships with your kids. I know there have been times where I’ve spent more time capturing my children’s milestones on my camera, as opposed to truly experiencing them and storing them on my hard-drive. So now I make a conscious effort to not always take my phone when we go out. There’s no right or wrong- I think it’s a great way to advance these types of honest conversations.

 

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I’m Dr. Kristy Goodwin

Researcher, speaker, author, and mum - and not only do I GET it, I’ve dedicated my entire career to helping my fellow professionals and parents explore this exact digital dilemma.

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