Is Technology Really Ruining Our Kids?

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I was speaking at a mom's meeting last month and as I usually do, I answered several questions at the end of the talk. I love this part; new moms and seasoned moms and burnt out moms and excited expectant moms throw their struggles out and together we troubleshoot.

This group had a nice number of older women serving as mentors, and one raised her hand eagerly. "What do you do about technology? I mean, my granddaughter just has her phone in front of her all the time, and she's texting with her thumbs non-stop."

I smiled. We're all familiar, no?

"Things were just different when I was a kid. We used to all hang out on the front porch and talk to our neighbors. It was different than these kids today."

Implied meaning: it was better.

I wondered. Was it better? I'm sure we'll all agree that face-to-face communication and just being with people physically is better, because doing life together is where relationships gain importance. But was life without the internet and wifi and all this mind-blowing technology better?

I'm voting no. Surprised? A mom of 8 born in 1970 is boldly saying no - I don't think life was better because our kids didn't have cell phones and the ability to text.

I like that my kids can Skype their cousins in Houston, enjoying goofy facial expressions and showing each other their latest nail polish acquisition or Lego creation  -  it's better.

I like that I have built a relationship via texting with my adult nieces who live scattered across California, who I otherwise would only chat with on holidays - it's better.

I like that 6 of us were gathered around the kitchen counter last night laughing and reminiscing over old photos that streamed digitally across my laptop screen - it's better.

I like that my soul sister in New Zealand texts me all week long as we share the common struggles of parenting, laugh over the dorky things we've done, or shoot Scripture to each other by way of encouragement. In real time - it's better.

I like that I can toss paperwork and keep digital copies, transfer money from my work account to our personal account, order almond milk in bulk on a pre-set shipping schedule, buy Christmas gifts in the car on the way to a business dinner, and plan my dinner menu all on my phone -  it's better.

I like that Australian technicians were reading my critically ill kids' CAT scans while they and their doctors were sleeping on California time - it's better.

I like that when I was in the hospital three times with three different kids for three life-altering reasons, my oldest sons could text me and ask what I needed them to pray for, or check the schedule and ask how they could help - it's way, way better.

I know what you're thinking. What about that granddaughter who can't talk to her grandmother because her thumbs and eyeballs are glued to her tiny screen? That's not better.

No, it's not. I have two thoughts concerning this sweet girl whom I don't know and who we're all picking on:

1. She's potentially the age and personality of a punky tween who would choose not to engage with her grandmother whether or not she had her own cell phone

2. She hasn't grown up in a home that's taught her to enter in

Enter in? Yes. Since our kids were little squirts, we've talked to them often about what it means to enter in. Talk. Shake hands. Look someone in the eye. Put down the phone. Enter in.

Enter In

Enter In

Some are better than others at it; one son struggles to make himself put the technology away, but he's personable and friendly and even works as a host at a restaurant. Another would probably naturally enter in anyway, a third is a very quiet man-of-few-words who knows how to have a quality conversation with anyone, and our daughters are coming up in the same way.

So there it is: I believe technology is awesome and cool and we are so blessed to be able to use it. And I also believe that we and our kids need to enter in. Love people well. Put down the phone, but embrace the awesomeness that is technology. Because in real life, technology can help make those relationships even better.