In working with lots of families, there are common topics that comes up time and time again in conversation, one of those is technology. Why is it that technology comes up? Well, for starters it is everywhere. More on that in just a moment. A few of the things I hear from parents include their child is having trouble (aka. tantrums, blowups) getting off technology when time is up, they have trouble connecting with other children other than over technology ("All of his friends play Call of Duty online OR All of her friends have that app. I don't want him/her to lose all their friends"), or they (the parent) is simply unsure how best to manage technology usage in their home ("My teen plays X-Box for hours instead of coming down for dinner", "When do I give it back?", "How long should I take it away for?", "How many hours should they have?"). The reason it comes up for most children…it is frequently the first thing out of their mouth as they begin to talk about their favorite things to do. If any of this sounds like your family, you are not alone.
Bear with me now as we dive deeper and meander our way through a bevy of numbers to paint a picture. Think of Bob Ross and these numbers are all happy little clouds and trees that add to the landscape.
This is the age of technology. Per the US Census Bureau there are over 324 million people in the U.S. and over 7.3 billion people in the world. An analysis from Cisco projects about 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020, after coming out with an earlier analysis in January that claimed there were 8.7 billion connected devices in 2012. Morgan Stanley feels that number can actually be as high as 75 billion, and also claims that there are 200 unique consumer devices or equipment that could be connected to the Internet that have not yet done so.
Two hundred unique devices?! There are more gadgets and gizmos out these days ‘than Carter’s got pills’ (a nod to my Mom for this classic phrase she still uses today). Just think for a moment about the number of devices within your own home: TVs, DVD players, game consoles (ie. Playstation, Xbox, Wii), portable gameplayers (ie. Gameboy, DS) as well as Desktops, Laptops, smartphones, smartwatches, iPods, iTouch, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, Tablets, and the list goes on. As for the platforms, Facebook is at the top with 1.71 billion monthly active users. Instagram is at 500 million, LinkedIn at 423 million, and Twitter at 313 million. Reports regarding YouTube show more than 400 hours of video content are uploaded every minute and the site accounts for twenty-two percent of all social media traffic.
Electronics are no longer just a resource for information or entertainment, they are a way of life and how people connect. So is the family unit in danger or is all of this just the way of the times?