I’m not a frequent commenter on blog posts. I read a lot of blogs, but I don’t normally comment. I know bloggers get frustrated at the lack of comments when they know that hundreds (or thousands) of people are reading their posts, but if I don’t have something to say, I don’t. If I have an opinion I might think about sharing it, but typically, someone has already voiced my so I move on.
I just read this article about a mom who decided that she and her 3 teenagers were going to take a 6 month break from technology. ”My concern,” she says, “was that we had ceased to function as a family. We were just a collection of individuals who were very connected outwards – to friends, business, school and sources of entertainment and information. But we simply weren’t connecting with one another in real space and time in any sort of authentic way.”
I am convinced that these sort of sabbaticals, whether a day, a month or a half year, are becoming increasingly important parts of living a healthy life. The other thing that struck me is the connection she makes between boredom and creativity:
“Anni, Bill and Sussy confronted boredom – something that they were previously unfamiliar with because of their endless access to online entertainment. They found out that it made them resourceful. Indeed, their mother thinks boredom is fundamentally important in terms of creativity: ‘If nothing’s wrong, you’re never motivated to change, to move out of that comfort zone.'”
Wondering your thoughts about the connection of constant stimulus and creativity?
I recently came across some interesting statistics. Sometimes you need to be careful with statistics because they can always be skewed to show what you want versus what a different side wants, but these are rather interesting… feel free to interpret them as you wish.
I’m pulling these statistics from “Shaping the Story: Helping Students Encounter God in a New Way” by Michael Novelli.
- 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school
- 42% of college graduates never read another book
- 57% of new books aren’t read to completion
- Most readers don’t get past page 18 in a book they’ve purchased
- A poll of 5th grader’s reading habits outside of school revealed that 50% read 4 min a day or less outside of school, 30% read 2 min a day or less, 10% read nothing
- 80% of graduating high school seniors say they’ll never again voluntarily read a book
- 65% of college freshmen read for pleasure for less than one hour a week or not at all
- 70% of Americans haven’t visited a bookstore in five years
- More than 20% of adults read at or below a 5th grade level – far below the level needed to earn a living wage
- Half of US households didn’t purchase a book in 2001
- Customers 55 and older account for more than 1/3 of all books bought in 2001
- In 2006, the average American home had more TV sets (2.73) than people (2.55). More than 50% of homes have at least 3 working TV sets
- On average, TVs are turned on for 8 hours and 14 min a day
- The average adult watches 4 hours and 35 min of TV each day. Kids average about 4 hours
- Children who have TVs in their bedrooms: 32% of 2-7 year olds and 65% of 8-18 year olds
- 35% of children and teenagers have video game systems in their rooms
- 72% of kids ages 8-17 years old report multi-tasking while watching TV
- Children average 6.5 hours a day – more than 44 hours per week – in front of a screen (TV, computer, video game, and so on)
- 35% of tweens (kids ages 8-12) own a mobile phone; 20% use text messaging; and 64% download and play music on their phones
- More than 70% of Americans ages 15-34 use social networks online
- Nearly 2/3 of teenagers – 63% – have a cell phone
- Teenagers average 16.7 hours and adults average 11.6 hours of weekly internet usage
- Americans aged 13-18 spend more than 72 hours a week using electronic media – defined as the Internet, cell phones, TV, music, and video games. Because teenagers are known for multi-tasking, their usage of devices can overlap
The television. Also known as: the TV. Love it or hate it, the TV has been an influential force in the last hundred years. From its early, crude transmitted silhouette images, to black and white with no sound, and then eventually sound, and later into color and recently high definition sets that hang on the wall, the TV has radically impacted the transmission of information and entertainment. Only since the Internet has a technology had a remarkable impact on the advancement and development of technology.
But how to use such a technology wisely? With all the negative and disturbing images coming across the screen of a television, how do we as people (and parents) protect ourselves (and our kids) from “seeing” and “hearing” things that help or hurt us. This same question of wisdom can also be applied to the use of the Internet (or anything for that matter).
How do we use technology wisely? And particularly as a person who follows Jesus and wants to live out the kingdom of God in this world… what does it practically look like to use such resources wisely?
A recent post @ Engadget revealed that kids watch too much TV (shocker, I know!). What is it about TV and technology that seems to enable parents to use it to “babysit” their children. I know for me, it is “easier” to parent when my kids are watching a movie in the other room. Even with other “screens” available (i.e. iPod Touches, iPads, iPhones, Blackberrys, tablets, laptops, advertisement screens at Walmart next to displays, etc.), we (and my kids) are bombarded with technology and information.
I’m not saying technology is bad or inherently evil. It isn’t. It’s how we use them, how we implicitly regulate them, that makes its use good or bad.
So, how do we wisely use technology?
I wonder if the answer to that question lies in what each person thinks about the use of free time or the attention (or inattention) to human interaction (going out with friends, spending face-to-face time with your kids, etc.). And maybe moderation. I’m reminded that with anything, be it food, sports, drinks, video games, or gardening, one can go to the extreme of spending all of their time (free or borrowed) on things that throw every other thing in their life off balance. The opposite of moderation would be excessiveness.
So, what is excessive when it comes to technology (or anything else for that matter)?
I am always amazed at the “vastness” and implicit impact the internet (and its subsidiaries) are having on humanity and our behavior. Check out this “info graphic” below (thanks Imago):
This wasn’t on purpose. I love my cellphone. It’s a smartphone that’s capable of fetching emails as well as simple internet searches and reading, in addition to calendaring, unlimited contacts and other “media-related” stuff. Along with my wallet and keys, this phone is always in my pocket.
Not the last 3 days. I was trying to make a call before we got into the motor home for our trip to Wenatchee, WA to go camping with my friends from college and my phone was locking up on me, so I set it in a compartment in the truck. And for those of you who know what it’s like loading up the supplies it takes to take 2 toddlers on a 3 day trip away from home, you know how long and arduous it would take to transfer to the motor home. It wasn’t until we were about 10 miles down the road that I was going to have Amanda look up our route on Google Maps on my phone, when I realized that I had left my phone in the truck.
Bummer. I suppose I could have justified turning around and going back to get it, but that was silly because I didn’t really need it. So basically, I didn’t have access to email and the internet for 3 days. It was good for me. I didn’t know or realize how “mentally”, “behaviorally”, and “habitually” I am connected to the internet. It was good for me to experience this 3 day fast. Weird and unsettling, but good for me. It’s not that the INTERNET is bad. My dependency on it is what is unhealthy and why it was so good for me to be away from it for a couple of days.
I wonder if these kind of experiences (intentional or unintentional) help reveal things about our character? I wonder if we ever pay attention to these kinds of things? Do you? Is it worthwhile?