How much tech time is too much tech time for a Dad?

The general rule of thumb through which I measure this is by the degree of immersion.

Some technology is a flat-out grind.

It’s designed to draw in, keep and convert its prey. 

 

Tech is Designed this Way

To be fair, all this is done to incite repeat customs.

There’s nothing inherently unethical about this since designers operate on the idea that the onus of user responsibility rests with the individual.

There’s also no denying that we live in a technological society.

The user pays, and accepts full personal responsibility for how they use the technology.

Social Media companies, political parties, and an array of video game developers look to behavioural science with the aim of achieving loyalty to their platform.

By “pushing our buttons”, they entice us to push the buttons they want pushed.

An analysis from Harvard University states, ‘platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible.’

It adds, 

‘There is no doubt that smartphones provide immense benefit to society, but their cost is becoming more and more apparent.’

‘Studies,’ they argue, ‘are beginning to show links between smartphone usage and increased levels of anxiety and depression, poor sleep quality, and increased risk of car injury or death.’

According to Harvard, Big Tech, are in an ‘arms race for your attention and time.’ 

The winner, they state, will be those ‘who best use their product to exploit the features of the brain’s reward systems.’

“The house always wins.”

Knowing that there’s a deliberate (mostly) benign manipulation behind technology inoculates us against complete immersion in it.

It’s worth restating: Technology is a tool, not a toy.

This knowledge empowers us to set limits on – or boundaries around – how much of a hold big tech, brand, app, even political group has over us.

We determine technology’s level of influence and control, not them.

In an 1822 letter to Post Master General, W.T Barry, the 4th President of the United States, James Marsden wrote,

‘Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.’

With respect to tech. We are either governed or choose to govern ourselves.

How to Manage Technology

The best way to fight for the latter is to question our habits. 

A proactive first – suggests Harvard – is to ‘disable notifications for social media apps’.

Second,

‘be mindful of how technology is used, by asking is this really worth my time?’

A measure of commitments, and prioritising those is a preventative against being too immersed in video games, or addicted to the dopamine hits fed by social media notifications.

Socially distancing ourselves from these also creates better headspace, improving overall mental health.

Furthermore, full immersion in the cyber world robs us of precious time and stops us from giving attention to others. 

Citing martyred missionary, Jim Elliot’s “wherever you are be all there John Dillard wrote

Friends and family appreciate uninterrupted attention and intentional investment in those relationships.’

He was discussing a self-realisation about the importance of overcoming the ‘tyranny of the urgent.’

Elliots words, Dillard said, acknowledge the ‘moment-by-moment quest to be present and engaged.’

He adds that this ‘increases our productivity, as well as our ability to savour life experiences and relationships.’

100% Damage

A sad ongoing “joke” in one online multiplayer world I used to be part of went something like “game hits marriage with 100% damage.”

This, for some, was virtual reality smashing their reality to pieces

Our degree of immersion in a fabricated world made of pixels will impact our presence in the only world that matters. As a Dad, we need to live in the real world. 

It’s often said that we shouldn’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. I think in a technological society the reversal is just as apt, don’t lose sight of the trees for the forest.

As Marsden said, knowledge will forever govern ignorance.

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Image by Bruce Mars on Unsplash.

Published On: September 17th, 20210 CommentsTags: , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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