I have found myself paying closer and closer attention to those around me most recently. I see a challenge and a disruption in life due to a lack of social engagement. It’s a broad term that is relevant to almost all aspects of daily life and routine. My father is one of the best storytellers I know, and he has never struggled with engaging with complete strangers. No matter where he is or what he is doing he can easily strike up a conversation. This might be because he still has a flip phone, but I think it is more because he truly loves to engage with those around him. He loves to make people laugh through a simple story. Unfortunately, the world we live in today struggles with the ability to authentically connect with those around them. The social aspect of our youth today is not a face to face conversation or confrontation; it’s between screen to screen. Social media has become such a common way of communication today that people have become somewhat “trapped” in our devices and social media.
Our youth can efficiently type a question or a statement to another with a breeze, but when it comes to real-life social interaction, those actions seem less and less simple as time goes on. People seem more than welcome to speak freely behind a device, but when it comes to real-life, nothing seems to be the same because people don’t live up to what they are willing to say in front of a real-life person.
The Prosper Education Foundation most recently sponsored Collin Kartchner in Prosper ISD for a message designed for students and parents regarding technology. The information he shared with parents in the evening was frightening. Our children need connections and relationships that do not get disrupted by a simple device. We need more time away from technology and far more time face to face. Social interaction needs to become more prevalent for the next generation to thrive. Mr. Kartchner shared that hugging our children for 8 seconds 8 times a day is a necessity for a child to be in balance mentally and emotionally. Following Mr. Kartchner’s presentation many of our teens shared that they did not remember that last time they were hugged. Alarming and heartbreaking to think that a device has replaced true human connection and love.
It’s a growing epidemic with a negative trend, though the technology is fantastic in its way. It is hugely diminishing of the wholesome roots of livelihood and childhood. We see it today in the modern teens and children. The best way to manage this crazed addiction and trend towards always being connected is to disconnect. This disconnection also needs to be at bedtime. So many of our children are sent to bed with their phones and this is one of the gravest mistakes a parent can make. We all need time to be away from what we obsess about and seek more traditional and original activities that relieve us, provide us rest, and remind us of the values in our own homes. We need to be seeking individual values similar to one another, and I believe it’s directly correlated with technology; it takes such a large portion out of the average person’s day. It causes many to take away from activities that should be engaging and meaningful while creating memories.
The technological obsession drives us from so many things we could potentially thrive in. Sometimes, as humans, time to ourselves and time with our loved ones is more meaningful than being so attached to social life’s connective aspect. Technology will always be here, and it’s the future, but it’s up to us to be our enforcers and find time for those traditional engagements with the things we love most.
A few changes you can make now:
- Hug your child/children and look them in the eye. Make the hug last for 8 seconds.
- If you are allowing your child to have their phone in their bedroom break the routine. Your child might tell you they need the alarm clock on their phone. Don’t fall victim, go buy an old school alarm clock and take the phone overnight.
- Be willing to put your own device away if you are asking your child to do so. We are the model as parents.
Together we are stronger. We are Prosper! We are one!
Dr. Holly Ferguson
Prosper ISD Superintendent