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The following article appeared in Dawn of 11/18/13. The article is being reproduced without the advertisements that come in newspapers. It is worth reading.

It is a sorry state of affairs, especially in third world countries, where families are under severe pressure as to how cope with increasing use of gadgets and less personal interaction in the younger generations.

The disconnection that modern technology brings to our generation between parents and their children, between grand parents and their grand children is a sure sign of degradation in family values.

What are we gaining with these gadgets? They are making us alienated from our own children and our close families, and even our friends and relations.

Unless we control our future generations with love, understanding and the correct type of training and education, the future does not seem to hold much. Now is the time, its not too late as yet, let us take control of our future generations.

Now read the article
“My sons (Afnan, age nine and Hassan, age seven) are truly the children of the technology age. They prefer to play action games in front of 46-inch screen with their 3-D glasses on the eyes and controllers in their hands. Their physical activity is restricted to jumping, turning and dancing as the series of action takes place on the screen,” Wajiha, a mother of two, says.

She may not like it but she confesses that she can’t complain about it. “It is just an add-on to our own addiction.” She laments that they are being “distanced from the boons of the simple life, like connecting with one another on the most basic, human level — unlike how we were encouraged to go outside to play or visit the park, and develop a closeness to nature by spending time with flowers, birds and butterflies.”

The discussion at a meeting of a group of parents had turned towards the younger generation’s obsession with technology. The technology has brought about such changes that everything is just a click away — from curriculum to health care, to even pornography and extreme violence. There are no boundaries in the virtual world.

Many view this fascination with technology as a way forward to increase efficiency and better connectivity. But we should not ignore the other side of the story that can have a far reaching impact on the health and behaviour of the persistent users — the children.

“My two-year-old daughter does not open her mouth to eat unless she has hickory dickory dock playing on the I-pad,” Aimen, another young mother, added. “I bought the I-pad for my four-year-old son to make learning fun for him.”

She is amazed how the little hands operate the gadget with the precision that even her own fingers have not mastered. “I wish my daughter learns to use technology in ways I never have, but not at the cost of disconnecting with the ‘real’ world,” she says.

“I always stress on the need to read books, but never thought that Kindle and
I-pads will take away the pleasure associated with the traditional way of reading. After all, there is something about turning the crisp pages and the smell of paper,” another worried mom said. “It is unnerving to see my teenage daughters’ eyes locked on the screens for hours.” But getting the kids to switch off isn’t easy either. We are immersed in this world of screens and touchpads, and it is increasingly isolating us from the human interactions we need to grow and mature as people. It is this person-to-person contact that helps us develop empathy for other people, and gives us the humility to accept our failures and keep struggling. Those born on the brink of the technological revolution have experienced these contacts, but our children are increasingly isolated.

“If you try to pressurise them, tears come to their eyes as if they are being victimised. They say that they feel humiliated in front of their friends as everyone in the school owns one such device or another,” she explains. “Technology is useful when it is put to the right purpose and not just used as a status symbol or a toy to show off.” Unfortunately, it seems many parents don’t share this view.

She is shocked to see her daughters’ friends carrying smartphones to school. “I hope the parents know what they are doing with their kids’ future.” By making friends with these devices and not interacting with people, the children do not get the opportunity to engage in the unceasing rush of experiences that would make them morally, physically and psychologically sound individuals. No one is advocating a complete break from technology; that would be short-sighted and regressive. What we need instead is to balance our lives and those of our children, to understand that the virtual world is far less important than the one that waits outside your door

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Dr Wequar. I do not think the younger generations are complaining. I do not think they recognize the changes that older folks recognize in the form of reduced social-interaction, physical down time, mindfulness, rest, touching and interaction in the real physical world, as every one of their needs can be found online, besides food and the bathroom. What do you propose as a solution?

Debby i think it is also about social values,for example if a family of five are travelling in a car you find that the only person not on his/her cell phone is the driver, there is no talk or exchange of thoughts amongst the four as either they are conversing on cell phone or playing on I pad or "texting". Before when the technology was not there they would converse or even argue. These are my personal observation,as i think we have or are becoming robots, human without feelings.

Now kids are more connected globally while less connected with the family members! Kids now do not search for a friend, don't go to playground. Many even don't miss the call while driving. The most shocking thing people do not switch off their mobiles while at worship and the tone of any song penetrates badly.

These are some of the "virtues" of present day social life in our 21St century civilization. We are forgetting our values under pressure of these now unavoidable technology advancement.

I see the truth in this article, even though I don't have children.  I see it in the adults of the world as well. In the frantic pace to keep up with technology, marketing businesses to the global community and garnering attention for who we are as individuals - to "stand out in the crowd", it seems to me that our own lives and our own communities get left behind at times.  It feels like even though technology brings many gifts with it, we as societal members are leaving important cultural traditions behind - not to mention the time needed to edify and nurture our own personal and spiritual growth.  That's just my two cents and it begins with me as well.  Finding and maintaining that "happy balance" is the key to self and familial fulfillment as well as not getting lost in the "technological shuffle" of the 21st century.  Connection to real people and family, neighbors and to our communities must not be lost if we are to change the world and the enormous challenges it presents us at this critical time in humankind's history.

Thank you for your comments. What you stated is the whole truth,

"That's just my two cents and it begins with me as well.  Finding and maintaining that "happy balance" is the key to self and familial fulfillment as well"

I wish we as humans living in 21St century took heed to all this.

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