We had a family computer with a huge, boxy screen in the corner of the room that resembled a cream colored octopus with cords everywhere but that was about it. Oh, and the garage door. We could open the garage door by remote. Pretty cool.
Jump ahead to 2013.
The ability to change any surface into a touch screen has revolutionized how we exist. Everything no longer is just what it is, it is “smart.” Smart cars, smart houses, smart watches. When will our mirrors finally reach their full potential and bring more to the table then just a reflection?
Of course, there’s our smartphones. They do so much more than just call someone. (And who wants to talk anyways?) Now we text, Snapchat, Instagram and Vine for all our silly human needs. Gone are books, newspapers and library cards. To think, I used to write letters. Ha! I could never have imagined this even a few years ago when I still bought CDs.
I, for one, am very rarely without my smartphone. It is really nice how a couple of taps of the old thumb can connect me to a world that sometimes seems so far, far away. Especially after a morning of toy trucks, dolls and tea parties.
Naturally, the second I look at my little colorful screen, both kids pounce. It takes a real conscious effort to put that gadget away. You would be surprised how many times we automatically reach for our phones when we are bored. It’s just so easy, a natural extension of the arm almost. Just a few taps on the screen, and I’m watching a short clip on the dangers of climbing Mt. Everest while I change a dirty diaper. Quite exciting.
But I’m trying to lead by example. Technology has a time and a place in our lives and we must control it. We can help our kids by showing that these devices are not the center of our lives. In being “connected” to our phones, email, Internet, stock portfolios, breaking news events and sports updates, to name a few, we are actually becoming more disconnected from the things that matter most — our families, ourselves and society. It’s not going to get any easier as this generation is being raised with technology being an integrated part of their lives.
Lately, I have been leaving my phone in the charger all day. Sort of like being demoted to a landline. Bad phone, you are taking all my attention away from, well, life. It was strange, but after a while I found myself more engaged in the moment — better connected to things around me. It’s a nice place to be with little kids.
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Bryan Grossbauer is an actor, musician, former teacher and full-time stay at home dad to two children. He and his wife, Erin O’Callaghan, live in New Rochelle and enjoy traveling, hiking, and live music.