By Maceo Keeling –
As children in elementary school we sat in our assigned seats awaiting the teacher’s attendance call to order.
Our reply was either “here” or “present.” After attendance, our day was filled with the excitement of learning and interacting with our peers. Nothing empowers learning more than strong, healthy, interpersonal relationships.
Interpersonal skills are centered on communication: listening, questioning, and understanding body language. They also include the skills and attributes associated with emotional intelligence, or being able to understand and manage your own and others’ emotions.
This begs the question: Where are your children (and you) getting an education on any given day? How healthy are their, and your, interpersonal relationships?
According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 95% of teens use a smartphone and say they are online almost constantly. About 70% of teens are on Snapchat and Instagram, while 85% are on Youtube. Teens are spending more than one-third of their days using media such as online videos, gaming, and/or music—nearly nine hours on average. For “tweens” between the ages of 8 and 12, the average use of social media is nearly six hours per day.
The report went on to say that all this near consistent media “socializing” makes teens feel more connected than ever before. However, the very definition of “social” media can be misleading, because experts are finding that the more time spent on social media, the lonelier and more anxious people are.
Jacob Barkley, Professor of Health Sciences at Kent State University, has been studying smartphone use and students since 2013. He writes, “Interaction on social media is not beneficial. It’s electronic. The higher the cellphone use, the more time spent on social media, the higher the anxiety. Peer relationships actually get worse the more you use your phone.”
These statistics are staggering! What’s more surprising is that the perils we once feared in society have now infiltrated our homes with a double consciousness of being. Our privacy, security, and healthy interactions have been traded for social media.
I get that people need to connect, but we hardly interact with each other in person, and we often “friend” someone online just to have a sense of being connected. We talk about “likes” as if they define or enhance our genuine sense of self-worth. Really?
Life is not a spectator sport. You are in it for an unspecified amount of time, yet, many of us waste a good majority of our time with a remote control, smartphone, or gaming controls.
Life is in Session—Are You Present?
Put social media, cellphones, and computers on pause. Turn these devices off when you are eating, sleeping, or driving.
Hang it up and live!
“You don’t have to be great to get something started, but you do have to start something to become great!”
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The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.