In the early 90s, an elementary school classmate of mine (we’ll call him Jon), stole his dad’s car in an attempt to get to a NASCAR race in a neighboring city. He was only 10, so he didn’t know how to drive a vehicle. Jon’s attempt to run from the police ended with the stolen vehicle wrapped around a tree and Jon in the hospital. When Jon returned to school, his mouth was wired shut and he had to drink from a straw for several months. Let’s just agree, he was not ready to drive just yet.
On June 29, 2007, Apple launched an amazing technological advance — the first generation iPhone. Over the years, this device (and ones similar to it) evolved into the hyper- dependent devices you see today. However, when a device becomes more of a priority than the people around you, then it is a problem.
Just like Jon driving his dad’s car before he was taught, people are being handed keys to a vehicle and encouraged to navigate the technology superhighway unprepared. How can we better prepare for life, while navigating a technologically advanced society?
Establish healthy connections. This is the most important preventative measure before adding technology to the mix. Healthy relationships build trust and respect.
Lead with a commitment to integrity. People tend to follow the person who looks like they know what they are doing. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t critique others, but be an example of the commitment to do right.
Get on the media learning curve and use it correctly. Learn what devices do before letting your children use them. It would be pretty difficult to teach a young person how to drive a stick shift if you can’t do it yourself.
Set the ground rules BEFORE you get/give the device. Clear expectations minimize explosive conflict.
Establish protected borders with guarded entry points and check them regularly. Parents are the owners. Children are users. It is the parent’s responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their children.
Be involved in the lives around you. Avoid neglecting the presence of others.
Healthy moderation. Moderation is important to many things — eating, drinking, swimming, sunbathing, driving, sports, games, you name it. It’s no different with technology.
Occasionally unplug. There is nothing wrong with setting a specific time aside — maybe a planned day or weekend — where you just make the conscious decision to tell all your friends and co-workers that you and your family are going to unplug and are only reachable for emergencies.
Yes, we live in a technology dependent society. However, technology does not have to control us. It can be used to benefit our relationships and improve our lives. But, if left unchecked, it can bring you down and destroy the relationships around you. Think about how you allow technology to impact your life and the relationships around you.
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