Are our “communication” devices really helping us communicate or are they isolating couples and teens and teaching our teens distance rather than togetherness? Sherry Turkle, author of the acclaimed book Alone Together, questions if our social networks are making us more, not less, isolated. Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life, examines the dark side of the Internet and its potential to disrupt family bonds. These are worrisome thoughts and are causes for concern. As I watch teenagers walking together but on separate cell phones and sitting together at lunch but texting on their cell phones, I wonder what their relationships will be like as they grow up. They also spend a good deal of their time on their home computers on social media sites rather than out with these same friends. Parents have become very concerned about their teenagers relationships as well.
In addition, when I go in to my waiting room to lead couples into my office, I often find each of them on their cell phones or texting. In my office, I often hear complaints about cell phones left on during dinner, one person doing texting and email when they are supposedly having “quality time” together; one person tied to answering their email at night instead of joining the other in bed; or another spending too much time during their vacation answering emails. These partners have created distance between themselves without realizing it and are finding it difficult to reach each other. I have often recommended turning these devices off during dinner, agreeing on a time that they would be shut off at night, and a circumscribed time for email during vacation. These strategies could help contain some of the intrusion into a couple’s intimate life together. I suggest the same for children.
Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment.