Unplugging in 2012!

Unplugging in 2012!

Happy New Year! We hope that 2012 is off to a great start. If you have made any New Year’s resolutions, we hope they are going strong. For a lot of us, we focus on going to the gym more often, eating healthier, getting more sleep, kicking bad habits, or improving overall well being. Maybe we resolve to read more and watch TV less, take up a new hobby, or strengthen our connection with friends and family. This last resolution brings up an interesting dilemma as we enter the year 2012. How do we “unplug” (from time to time) from the digital world we live in, so we can improve our relationships?

We are lucky to have such advanced technology, and the ease of giving and receiving information with the touch of a button. We are connected to valuable news that broadens our knowle

dge. We can communicate with friends and family that live in distant places. And we can connect with groups that share similar interests and goals. There are great advantages to having the use of computers, laptops, cellphones, BlackBerrys, iPhones, iPads, Facebook, and Twitter. But here is the catch….are we replacing time spent with real people for those we communicate with online?

Michele Borba, an internationally recognized author on children, teens and parenting, wrote, “While a digital world may enhance our children’s cognitive growth, it does little to affect their moral, social and emotional development”. Are we spending more time on Facebook than face to face with the people we love? Her findings were that “the average American eight to 18 years old is now plugged in to some kind of digital media seven and a half hours a day”. In that time, our children are connecting with friends, but are they really feeling a sense of true connection when using digital media? What’s missing is the face-to-face interaction we learn so much from, like facial reactions, body language and emotions. So how do we strengthen our family connections, and have a bit of shared quality time?

A great way for families to connect face to face, without constant distractions, is to ban all digital media from the dinner table. Mealtime is a great time to catch up and talk face-to-face, without the rings, beeps and tones of phones, all drawing our attention away from the people who are right there within our reach. It may be brief, but it can be a valuable time spent together. When we are engaged in a true conversation, we observe facial reactions and see emotions. That is one of the things that make summer camp so unique in today’s world. We are unplugged. With the exception of an iPod (music only), electronics are not allowed at camp. Campers and staff are tuned in to one another. It’s a refreshing break from the world around us. It adds value to our friendships and feeling connected.

If you are trying to “unplug”, or take on any new beginning…good luck and enjoy the journey.