Friday, April 18, 2008

Connected ... or disconnected?

A couple was having dinner with their 2 teenage daughters next to the table where I was sitting at a restaurant. The girls did not talk with each other or their parents, instead sending text messages with cell phones for an hour - before, during and after dinner. Guess it didn't occur to anyone to actually put up their technology and talk. Would you say that family is connected, or disconnected?

Made me think of an Oprah show earlier this week that examined families, waste, and how we spend our time.

On the show 2 families were asked to turn off their computers (except for homework), cell phones, video games, iPods, and no more than an hour of television nightly. For a week. Also asked to give up eating out, fast food, drinking soda/bottled water, using paper products, shopping; and to turn down thermostat, take shorter showers, and not waste food. Really surprising results in only one week.

1. It was as difficult for adults as for kids. The amount of time adults spend with technology, especially at home, takes away from home life. How much time isn't spent reading, talking, eating together, riding bikes, etc. One dad said he didn't realize how often they brushed aside the kids because busy watching something on TV or doing something on the Internet.

2. A mom said she didn't fully grasp that a half hour of her 5-year old son's video games turns into 3 hours then turns into 5 hours. But parents ignore it because gives them "time" to do their own technology.

3. Families saved hundreds of dollars a week, and found time to be with their kids, once they just connected in person ... by disconnecting.

Back to the teens I saw at dinner. I wonder when parents look at the volume of text messages their kids send, if they also look at the volume of Twitter messages they might be sending. Who are the people we have "extra" time for - the ones at home, or the ones we barely know but getting to know better/deeply online? I believe Oprah is onto something. The wired world needs to start re-connecting in real life again ... at home. Turn it off. Try it.

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