Posted on Jun 19, 2019
Shannon Husk discussed the impact of electronic devices on family life, from her work counseling families as well as adults.
Shannon discussed the role of electronic media (smartphones, tablets, etc.) on family life. She is currently working with 92 families and 19 adults. In her work she sees such things as gaming disorders (possibly a form of addiction) but also physical conditions like neck strain and vision problems; and dissociative behaviours within families.
A significant part of the tech environment is related to children and teens: 70% of apps are targeted to these demographics; baby chairs are designed to cradle an i-Pad.
Many concerns arise from this activity: it fosters dependence and isolation; decreases interpersonal skills and hinders the development of language and social skills; emotions are not fully expressed; creates disconnection with other members of the family; decreases creativity and imagination; decreases understanding and empathy; mistakes are more easily broadcast and are less able to be forgotten; children and youth are less physically active than ever before.
When does tech use become a concern? When excessive time is spent; when ADHD arises; when health and self-image issues arise; when responsibilities (school, chores) are neglected and when sleep patterns are disrupted.
Shannon emphasised the importance of rules or boundaries – for instance not at mealtimes, not in the bedroom, not in the car. She noted some anecdotes from her work – that adolescents retreated to their electronic devices because their parents were engrossed in their own, or when their parents argued. She referred to a cyber bill-of-rights
Shannon left the group with the question of what can be done to address these concerns and ensure that our use of electronic media does not negatively impact the health of the family.