Connected But Alone

connected_but_aloneOne of the best books I’ve read on technology is Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle. It’s a book that I refer to again and again. In it, the author challenges us to think about how we approach technology. It’s still early in the game, and already we’re beginning to see the effects that technology is having on us, both personally and as communities. I agree with something that she says – many people feel connected but alone much of the time. I’m including a clip of her from a 2012 TedTalk (where she shares some key points from the book) at the end of this post.

This gives us an amazing opportunity as parents. We have the ability to shape how our children use technology. But first we have to be honest with ourselves about how we’re using it. We can talk all day; but ultimately our kids need us to back our words with actions.

I just completed my ebook, Connected: Apps All Parents Should Know. As part of my research for that book, I downloaded each and every app. Yep, you heard me. I tried out each app in that ebook. Some still remain on my device, as I’m in the process of completing additional books.

Over the past year, I’ve noticed a big change in my ability to rest. Part of it was the hours involved in research and writing. But, a larger part of it was the constant notifications coming from the never-ending stream of apps. All day and all night long. This happened in a very short period of time; I would say less than 6 months.

I’ve made some adjustments. First, I began to limited when and where I post. Next, I deleted all the apps that I’m not currently using or writing about. The biggest change is that I now have a social media “off day” each week. Admittedly, that was the hardest change for me to implement.

Why am I sharing this?

Because our kids are flooded with a never ending supply of new apps. They’re going to want to check them out, especially if their friends are using them. Apps are going to rise and fall. Some apps will be popular with one group; whereas another app might be the “latest and greatest” with another group. YikYak is a perfect example. On some college campuses, it’s incredibly popular. In other colleges, you’ll find students more drawn to Fade.

The blogging world is like this. Some bloggers like Hootsuite and others love Buffer. Some tear it up on Instagram and Twitter. And it’s okay if the new Tsu isn’t your thing.

We have so many choices!

At some point we have to make choices. If we can’t, how do we expect our kids to do it?

Talking about these issues and helping each other reset our personal boundaries with technology is going to be an important discussion for families. Our kids need us to be real with them so they understand life will have an ebb and flow. That’s normal.

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Let 2015 be the year that you begin to let apps take their rightful place as tools in your home.
You’re the skillful master, selecting which tools you need in your tool box. And remember, every good craftsman gives themselves time to rest, reflect, and refuel.

Now go visit your neighborhood pub or meet that friend for coffee!


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