Since the advent of smart phones and social media about 10 years ago I, along with many others, have tried to find how this all fits into my life and my family’s life without letting it take over our lives. Add to this the complexity of raising children who don’t know a world without smart phones and social media. I know we considering ourselves first-generation digital media users but it’s really our children whom I consider first-generation users.
I found this photo essay, entitled Removed, by Eric Pickersgill to be a fascinating visual look into exactly how addicted we’ve become to our smart phones. (NOTE: a better view may be from this Collective Evolution essay done about his work, written on October 11, 2015 by Mark DeNicola) Each photo represents how significant our physical disconnect has become. With our loved ones, our community, strangers in our city. The project was inspired and initiated by an observation Eric made one morning while sitting in a local café:
excerpted from Eric Pickersgill:
Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.
As a parent of two young children, ages 12 and 9, I agree with Eric that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what this social impact has on future generations. My husband and I have to consciously monitor our “screen time” in front of our kids so they do not grow up and say “Mom and Dad were great but they were always too busy looking at their cell phones to pay attention to me.”
We make a conscious effort (one admittedly not always adhered to!) to try and put down our phones when we come home from work, we limit our time ‘zoning out’ looking at our phones throughout the weekend, and we try to stay off social media entirely in front of the kids. That last one is pretty hard, especially given my job in charge of two social media platforms for the Wharton Leadership Program! As long as we can continue to put our kids as the priority and teach them the difference between connecting on your phone and connecting in person. It’s a constant lesson and one we try to impart on them daily. Showing them these pictures have certainly helped!