If your phone is not within eyesight, you may not yet be a smart phone “dependent.” But, more and more people are succumbing to the pull of this convenient, highly versatile technology! “Fully 46% of smartphone owners say their smartphone is something “they couldn’t live without.”
Smartphones are not only used for text messaging, calling, and emailing, they are now essential partners in connecting with friends via social media, entertainment while waiting in line, and healthcare research advocates. As the video explains, many people do not even go to the bathroom without a phone in tow! What do you use your smart phone for? I am currently working on my master’s degree fully online. I can write my assignments on my laptop, tablet or smartphone and submit them virtually through BlackBoard Learn.
The smart phone is just one channel for accessing emerging media, or the nearly unlimited information that we can access daily, right at our fingertips by connecting to the World Wide Web. Emerging media has become a revolution in the way we live our lives. And, more and more of our lives are turning digital! (Think: blogging, social networking, streaming TV, etc. 80% of 18-44 year-olds report checking their smartphones first when they wake up in the morning, even before going to the bathroom!)
Parenting is another stellar example of how the Internet and mobile technology is revolutionizing society, and I will write the remainder of this first post examining this idea: what was parenting like 20 years ago versus today with the advent of emerging media?
When I was growing up, my mom would take photos of me using a Kodak camera with film that had to be developed. (Fun fact: To develop film in 2015, it takes an average of 2 weeks to come back, and it’s pretty expensive, too. See more here.) I still remember the excitement of those trips to Wal Mart when we would finally get to see the pictures from our day in the park or from our family vacation to the beach. Then, we would put them in a picture album to share with grandparents and a few close friends. Occasionally, on special holidays, my dad would pull out our home camcorder, and he would shoot my brother and I opening our gifts from Santa, or putting out food to feed the reindeer. But, the rest of the moments–all of the in between–were simply lived. They were not documented for all time and they were not shared with 1,000 of my parents’ closest friends; I can see both the positives and negatives of that.
For me, there were no potentially embarrassing Facebook statuses about my latest bowel movement, no videos of me throwing a temper tantrum in the toy store, and best of all, no naked pictures! (There are some retroactive childhood photos though after my parental figure acquired a Facebook and now enjoys #TBT posts on Thursdays; Thanks, Mom! I must say, I was rocking that Barbie convertible though.)
On the other hand, looking back, it would be nice to have even more of these every day moments documented. It would be neat to read over my Mom’s thoughts on my third birthday, or to see all of the well wishes of our friends and family when I graduated from Kindergarten. Wouldn’t it be heartwarming to see my grandmother teaching me to make her world famous fudge on a video, or to see my actual reaction when I caught my first fish?
One of my sorority sisters from college, who is now a stay-at-home-Mom, military spouse and talented blogger, has a little girl, and I just love reading her “Day in the Life” posts at WhimsicalSeptember.com. She has been posting about Hadley since the time they found out she was pregnant while her husband was deployed, and even recorded his reaction on video! Even though we live in completely different places, it is fun to catch up on her life via her blog posts. And, I know many of those will mean so much to her daughter when she gets older, too.
Here is an example of one of her posts about Hadley’s life at 8 months of age. It contains cute pictures, fun facts, and even a video of Hadley interacting with her dad. This will be so special to look back on in a few years!
(Other post teasers taken from Whimsical September.com).
Parenting is just one aspect of life that social media, the Internet, and emerging technology is absolutely changing. Even if you are against the idea of social media and sharing photos of your child on the Internet, it is a new aspect of life that you as a parent must consider. What photos of your child (if any) are you OK sharing? How do you handle other people sharing photos of your child, such as from a birthday party or swim meet? Will you want these photos shared with just a select group, with your entire News Feed, or in a more public forum like a blog? One of my cousins’ wives created a Closed Group for just our family to see pictures of her growing family. I thought that was a neat idea for moms who are more concerned with maximizing privacy online.
At what age will your kids be exposed to technology and social media? The local middle school just got rid of text books for all sixth graders in favor of tablets. If your child is using a tablet at school, will you strictly stick to books at home, or will you also incorporate similar technology to give your child a more consistent experience?
When I visited Disney World two years ago for a journalism conference, all of the kids were eagerly watching the fireworks show and nightly parade–through the lens of a smart phone! I was shocked that kids of all ages were filming the parade rather than experiencing the events in the moment. To deal with issues like this, another mom I know strictly limits smart phone time during mealtimes and special family events to ensure everyone is fully present and engaged with the activity at hand. Other moms encourage the idea of constant connectivity and expect their children to respond to their phone calls and text messages instantly, even if the child is fully engrossed in another activity.
I am not a mom yet, so I don’t have to answer any of these questions, but it is interesting to ponder how our family will respond to the challenges and opportunities that come with constant connectivity.
Parents: How are smart phones/emerging technology affecting your interactions with your family? What do you see as the pros and cons of this technology in your daily lives? **Please comment below to help me in my master’s degree course!