Technology has changed quite a bit in the past decade or so. Growing up, my family didn’t pay for cable, so we had three (and on a good day four) channels to choose from. There were those of us that did have cable, but I can’t speak well from their experience. Music in my time was bought in the form of cassette and cd. By the time I was in high school, we were just starting to explore the world of mp3. Facebook had just started kicking off in my teen years and was nowhere the beast that it is today. Smartphones were not a thing when I was a kid, so apps, video sharing, social networks, and streaming are all things that still impress me. We had video games, but online play was not yet popular. We got our news from the radio or the tv; not from Facebook, Youtube, or Google. I don’t claim to be an expert on the influences of media on this current generation, but I thought it might be a worthy exercise to speculate how culture may have changed from our generation to the upcoming one. The challenges that my parents face with technology are much different than the challenges that my wife and I face. These are just my thoughts on the matter.
One thing that I hear many older parents say is that the world has become “larger” and “smaller” at the same time. We have the world at our fingertips, but modern technology has encouraged us to be more self-focused than we have ever been in the past. They would say that we have abandoned the cherished times in person for a quick update over some form of social media. I can say from an introvert’s perspective that I appreciate the ability to catch up with people without meeting in person. We introverts like to get to the heart of a conversation. It’s nice when you can skip the small talk and get straight to the point- “Luke and Haley just had a baby and the baby is looking very healthy. Thank you, Facebook! That’s what I wanted to know.” On the other hand, having access to so many things that I enjoy on one personal advice I carry with me everywhere is very distracting. It’s hard to care for a family when it is so easy to jump into my own little digital world with the touch of a button. That’s a battle my parents didn’t have to deal with.
I have enjoyed how much easier it is to learn new things. When the girls ask me a question, I can simply look it up on Google or throw a Youtube video onto the tv to watch together. The whole family has become increasingly explorative in this regard. The challenge that we face is the constant flood of misinformation that’s floating around. We live in a world where facts are opinions are treated as facts, and facts as opinions. I can’t tell you how many days I find myself saying the same phrase, “how did the world get so backward?” It’s like living in the world of Alice with no way of escape. Discernment is something that we must learn ourselves and teach to our children.
This is just my opinion, but you may agree- I don’t believe we are as disciplined or resilient as we used to be. I suspect that all of the improvements to life that technology has brought have allowed us to atrophy. Hard work and trials are not all bad for us. We need resistance to strengthen our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual muscles. These days, the easy road is just a little too accessible. From a comfy chair, I can order pizza or have groceries delivered, call someone to come mow my yard, tell a robot to sweep my floors, command Alexa to read me a book or start a hot shower, and I can even buy a car and have it brought to my doorstep. How does one become strong under such comfort? There is a positive side to this ease of access, however. For a guy like me that was not raised with someone to teach me how to do many things, I appreciate being able to follow along with a wikiHow or Youtube video to pick up a new trade or skill. So, in a way, technology has the capacity to immobilize us or equip us.
Those are just a few of my thoughts on how technology has changed and how we as parents might adapt to the change. In response, I would like to hear how technology has changed from your perspective? How are you adjusting to the changes?
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.