Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Technology, Life, and Multitasking

I am not new to technology.  We had a TV growing up, a computer, and video games.  However, instant access at our fingertips, the ability to get things done quicker, and an even greater spectrum of connecting.

However, technology has become common place...much in the same way that cars have.  We are surrounded by it, whether or not we like it.  My kids will grow up in a much different way than I did because of it.

I will be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with technology...all kinds and all aspects.  There are times when it becomes too much and too overwhelming, and yet I can't help but to turn to it.  Kind of like a mindless habit.

Isn't that what most of technology is for most people?  Mindless and habit?  We pull out our phones for a brief moment, because it dinged or vibrated.  We are only going to check what it was.  But then 10, 15, 20 minutes pass by without realizing it.  It sucks so much time from us when you really think about it.

It's not all bad.  I love that social media helps us as a family stay connected with other family that is scattered throughout the country.  I love how my son can ask me a question, and I am comfortable saying "I don't know, but let's look up the answer".  It has connected me with people, places, and things I never thought possible.

However, at the end of the day, the amount of time technology has sucked from me is insurmountable.  I know I get lost in it and I know I have multiple items going on at once.  I can't seem to just watch TV or just look at Facebook.  I have to be doing as many things as possible.

Now, toss in kids.  There are times when it has been great.  Days when I just need the extra moment to get dinner done, take care of the baby, or was simply in survival mode and we all needed the distraction.  However, while some is beneficial, to much became a crutch.  One that none of us really needed and one that had far greater affects, like on sleep and behavior.

It's hard to put the stuff down though.  I had my little one asleep in my arms the other day, which was a beautiful moment.  I was content as well because I had  my tablet within reach and phone, as well as the TV remotes.  However, my batteries were dead on my phone and tablet.  My initial thought was that of panic.  I could only just sit there or watch TV.  Why I couldn't just be in the moment and let these things go was beyond me.

With some time and thought afterward I realized that it has all become habit.  Sometimes, I just pull out the tablet to see if there is anything to see.  Yet, when it comes down to it, I am not really missing anything and I am not really going to miss anything in the long run.

Since realizing this, I have been trying to be better at using one technology at a time.  And also putting it down more and taking in what I have in front of me.  Be it family or things I like to do or simply picking up a book.  I have found, that while technology affects my son's behavior in undesirable ways in the long run, I have found that my use affects mine.  I have seen it affect those around me.  While they may not realize it, it does.

Think about it for a moment.  When you get home from work, how many times do you pull out your phone or tablet in a few hour stretch? Or how many hours do you spend plopped down on the couch watching TV?  Or even more so, how much times is going into both at once?  All too often, its a buzz or a ding that makes us feel the need to take a peak.  But really, what would truly happen if we were to wait.

I have mentioned the behavior side of things.  In my son's case, he would be more agitated, more aggressive and just downright defiant.  In my case, like others I know, my patience is gone.  And I mean gone.  I was a teacher, I have the patience.  Add a toddler, and an infant to the mix, and day to day living that patience limit goes down.  Now add in lack of sleep and feeling like you are just in survival mode.  On top of all of that add in technology.  Multitasking at its finest you may think.

I used to think I was great at multitasking.  That was until I had kiddo number two.  Now, the more multitasking I do, the worse off I, as well as those around me truly are.

Now I am not saying that we need to give it all up completely.  However, putting a limit on it is not such a bad idea.  I limit it for my kids, so why not for myself.  If I do this, I find that I have been missing out on so much.  Not to mention, things start getting down, stress level goes down, and at the end of the day things just feel better and happier.

So, I am challenging myself and you to put it down.  And by put it down, I mean turn the dings off.  Leave the technology away from the dinner table. Put the remotes away.  Now, be present.  Be present to what is going on right in front of you.  If you have kids, be with them.  If you don't, do a hobby.  Find the stuff that truly makes you a better you and do it.  If you have to, fill out a daily schedule and write in technology times.  When that time is up, move onto the next thing on the schedule.  Start savoring life beyond the screen.