Having A Conversation About Our Digital Lives

At the beginning of our "Digital Lives" series, we explored how digital devices are affecting our personal relationships. Through conversations with academics, psychologists, and the public we tried to get to the bottom of the matter. But there was still a lot left to say, so we posed the question to our audience:

On Facebook, Doug Chapel argued that while digital technologies can be convenient and even "good", we become much more isolated from each other.

Facebook - Digita Lives R1

Colleen Else spoke of the daily battle disconnecting from digital devices becomes, and the extra effort she and her husband have to make to communicate.

My husband & I are constantly telling each other to shut off the phone and give each other our full attention, it's a daily battle. I would like to say it's just him on the phone all the time, but I'm guilty of it too. I notice a big difference in our communication during the small moments (driving in the car, eating a meal, even going for a walk). We have to make a real effort to disconnect from our phone and connect to each other with our complete attention.

- Colleen Else on Facebook

Nigel Little offered the perspective from a Starbucks barista. He notices that the dynamic between he and his customers has changed for the worse, and that before smartphones, people were a bit more personable.

Yesterday at Starbucks around closing time, I was waiting for a customer to take their drink order. They were busy messing on their smart phone trying to find out the name of the drink they wanted (I could have easily helped them if they had given me a chance), another customer in line was shuffling through her music on her phone, another was texting while his wife stood playing a game on her phone. After about five minutes of watching them all with their noses to their touch screens I asked if I could help anyone. No answer, all remained silent, except for the music on the radio, so I returned to cleaning.

It is astonishing how when I started working for Starbucks, before smart phones were so popular, I used to talk to every customer, and enjoy their company, and stories, and they would enjoy mine. Now, I barely get to share two words with my customers...

Nigel Little on Facebook.

Beyond conversation about how digital technologies affect our personal relationships, the second story from Digital Lives explored the risks and rewards of playing video games. Again, we posed a question:

Chris Devers tweeted a response that video games are fine, as long as it's in moderation, and that it shouldn't completely displace other "analog" forms of entertainment.

Matt Willis argues that books have a similar immersive quality, and the same argument has been made in the case of reading.

Shannon Brook Davis says that she's been gaming ever since she was a kid and that video games shouldn't be considered an "alternative to play" but just as another way to play.

I grew up with games, from the first Atari system to now owning an XBOX with Kinect. My son and I play age-appropriate games together, including Kinect games that require physical activity. As a kid, I also played fantastic (and faux-violent) games in the woods, acting out scenes from Lord of the Rings. When it's warm, my son also plays outside. I don't see video games as an alternative to play, but as just another type of play. And I don't think they contribute to real life violence, as long as parents monitor what types of games their children play. Obviously showing a 3 year old a violent killing game (or movie or tv show) could be emotionally damaging to them and so one has to take care. Yes, I played video games my whole life and grew up to be a non-violent successful businesswoman in the high-tech industry. I bet you'd find that was true of many of us who were born in the 70s and grew up in the 80s

-- Shannon Brook Davis on Facebook

Patrick Smith echoes sentiments similar to Chris Devers in that gaming is okay in moderation. He suggests imposing a time limit on gaming.

Digital Lives Q2R2

This week, Digital Lives explores multitasking and our decreased productivity, but increased awareness as a result of multitasking.

Join the conversation: what do you do to increase productivity in an age of digital distraction? Do you power off? Do you value productivity over awareness, or vice versa? We're talking about it on Facebook and Twitter, or comment below.

This program aired on February 1, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.


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