Every generation makes the same argument:
“Today’s technology isolates us from the people and world around us.”
Today’s grandparents don’t like seeing their grandkids on iPads. Before iPads, our culture lamented how email would kill off the personal snail mail letter. Before email, TV was the culprit that stole family time. And before TV, many households found radio – with advertisements! – to be an intrusion into personal home life.
I can keep going…
Gutenberg’s printing press threatened scribes and confused the mainstream. (“What do we need mass-produced books for?”) And 1800 years before Gutenberg, Socrates argued that the advent of writing would ruin our capacity for memory and oral debate.
And here we are in 2015, all of our technology humming right along, our worldwide data doubling every two years.
Nature Valley Isn’t So Sure…
In a new spot from Nature Valley (the granola bar company), three generations are asked what they liked to do for fun as kids. The grandparents and parents give the traditional answers you might expect: building forts in the woods, sledding, fishing, and being outside.
The current generation of kids then gives their answers:
- “Just last week, I watched 23 episodes of a TV series in just four days.”
- “I would die if I don’t have my tablet.”
- “Whenever I’m upset, I play video games, and I feel normal. It’s really wonderful.”
The parents’ and grandparents’ responses include tears and disbelief.
But are today’s kids really so bad off?
Why Technology Isn’t the Bad Guy
Does technology have its problems? Of course. Technology can hang like a veil between us and our world if we let it. We are “connected, but alone,” says MIT professor Sherry Turkle. We are addicted to our devices. We are over-exposed to harmful content and over-stimulated by the constant stream of content. Our lives are made public, both with and without our permission, eroding away at our privacy. These are all problems.
But this isn’t the whole picture. Technology allows our children to connect with people and ideas outside their own neighborhood. It can dramatically improve language skills and cognitive skills. Today’s connectivity allows children to open up their curiosity and explore new areas of interest.
As Content Creators…
It’s our job to provide the content and tools that enrich those experiences. And, in this instance, I’m not just talking about kids, but all people. Great content gives. It enhances another person’s humanity. It restores something broken within them. Great content doesn’t just entertain or amuse, it actually offers value and enables the user to be their best.
Should our kids spend less time consuming digital content?
Should the content they do consume enrich their lives and help them discover what it means to be a person of worth and value?