By Bill Moore

We often hear or even make complaints regarding what is happening to our Country . How many times have we heard/said ” What is happening to the family? Our Kids? How come nobody cares? Why do we treat each other so badly?

I believe the problem has been happening for generations and there is no easy fix.  That is not to say we should not start to reverse what is going on. The point being made is there are no easy fixes in terms of time.

I believe the issues are that of a culture shift that needs to be reversed. There are three major factors causing this culture shift. They are the rise of Technology, the loss of Faith and lack of personal Responsibility.

Part 1 will address the rise of Technology. For this discussion we will define Technology as cell phones, internet , I Pads and TV. We live in a world where technology is growing at a rate the average person cannot keep up with. Do not get me wrong. Technology has made our lives vastly improved with even bigger advances on the horizon. However at what cost? Families no longer talk they text. How many times have you seen teenagers texting to each other in different rooms. An even greater effect on culture is the ability to expose anyone’s shortcomings on line causing increased embarrassment to the person attacked. In some cases the ” cyber bullying” can cause a teen or adult to attempt suicide.

However, in the short term the use of technology avoids the risks involved with direct contact. These is less loss of face if you are rejected by a text rather than face to face. Hence group dating and texting. In the long term there are effects that are detrimental to our children’s upbringing and our culture as a whole. The Huffington Post researched this issue and shared a great deal of research on the topic.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics both warn an infant under 2 years of age should not have any exposure to technology. 3 to 5 years olds should be restricted to an hour a day. They believe 6 to 18 year olds should be restricted to 2 hours daily. They cite many reasons for these limits.

They include results from various studies and children  and technology.  Both Small in 2008 and Pagini in 2010 did studies that demonstrated over exposure to technologies in a developing brain can be shown to have direct ties to attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning , increased impulsivity and a decreased ability to self- regulate. In simple terms an increase in tantrums and possible ADH.

In addition, consistent sitting in front of technology, directly leads directly to lack of exercise, thus an increase in obesity. This was demonstrated by Tremblay in 2011. Also in 2011 Feng demonstrated children who are allowed technology in their bedrooms have a 30% increase chance of becoming obese . The CDC ( Center for Disease Control) reports children with obesity are at an higher risk of developing diabetes, stroke and a heart attack.  Professor Andrew Prentice,  founder of the MRC International Nutrition Group, predicts 21st century children may be the 1st generation who may not outlive their parents.

Is it hopeless? No, but we must take steps to protect our loved ones from the long term effects of overuse of technology. Will it make a difference? In your family- Yes, hopefully it will spread to others. I have several suggestions that will help in the long run. They are simple and will in fact eventually bring the family closer together. As you are aware parenting/grand parenting  is not simple. The hardest thing for a parent to learn is they are not their pals but they are in fact in charge.

Here are five simple suggestions to control technology in your home. First, ban technology from the dinner table. This assumes that you eat meals with your kids whenever possible. They will balk at first but kids, especially teenagers, always balk any anything that upsets their routine. It gives the family time to talk about the important things in everyone’s lives and share lighter moments. Checking on how school is going is an excellent opener. The trick here is to ask probing questions like “What did you like/dislike about school today?” Do not ask” How was school?” That gets the standard response ‘Fine”

Secondly, collect technology when they go to bed. Too often kids use technology late into the night depriving them of needed sleep and often going to sites we may not want them on. This lack of sleep often surfaces in school the next day where they are not at their best.

Third, ban the use of technology in the car. Too often parents allow technology to deliver peace in the car while driving. In fact it should be used as a time to talk to the kids again asking probing questions and developing rapport with the kids.  Find out what class they liked or hated today and why.

Fourth- find ways to keep the children active. Take them on walks/ bike riding if you can. It increases conversation and helps build relationships. If you are not able, ensure the kids go out daily for an hour or so when possible. Exercise is a good thing. Giving them physical chores like vacuuming or lawn cutting also increase exercise and time away from technology.

Finally invest in a program that allows you to monitor what the kids are using. I am not recommending any app but something like “Covenant Eyes” allows you to monitor what sites everyone in your family is visiting. A family plan costs about $15.00 monthly.

If we are to take advantage of the wonders of technology we must also prepare for its darker sides and their effects on our culture. Properly harnessing the wonders of technology allows us to reverse some of the bad aspects of our culture and prepare for the onslaught of future technology advances.