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Technological hook-ups never can replace family connections



Published: Fri, January 17, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Technological hook-ups never can replace family connections

As a former educator, I have a concern about the focus of family and about children constantly texting and staring at their cellphones, iPads, computers or any other electronic device. We seem to be losing the importance of connection with the younger generation.

On average kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend about 71/2 hours a day, seven days a week looking for Web diversions. “It is like chocolate to the brain,” states psychiatrist Gene Cohen. We crave it. At any given moment when the phone rings we are pulled away from our immediate surroundings into the world of elsewhere and others. We turn our attention away from those present.

We are addicted to email, You Tube, or a Face book “fix”. We are risking our child’s future. While parents and children are enjoying constant access to everything and everyone on the Internet, we struggle to maintain a meaningful personal connection with each other in our homes.

It is the digital takeover of family. We’re stuck with it since society’s all wired around it now.

I’m not anti-tech. We do use it to connect with family and friends, for research work, and other hobbies. In school it has amazing potential to expand learning. But research shows problems on infant and child development, about narrowing the way the baby brain organizes for lifelong learning.

The connection that begins in the family shapes a child’s brain that tech can’t replace. Nothing can match the power of our attention and love. Screens and tech cannot match it, but they can replace it if we let it happen.

Parents, make wise choices about how we and our children use technology without sacrificing the one most important thing we can do. That is to have a loving, sustaining, and meaningful relationship with our family.

Bob Shilling, Salem


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