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:
Join the discussion on our Facebook page about whether digital tech enhances or hurts our relationships: wbur.fm/101sFBV #DigitalLives— WBUR (@WBUR) January 17, 2013Your responses to this question helped broaden the overall conversation taking place online. Here are some of the best answers we received:
On Facebook, Doug Chapel argued that while digital technologies can be convenient and even "good", we become much more isolated from each other.
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.
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...
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:How do you think parents should respond to their kids' fascination w/ video games? Tag #DigitalLives w/ your answer! wbur.fm/Vl6g6k
— WBUR (@WBUR) January 24, 2013
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.
@wbur All things in moderation. My kids play video games, but only a for couple hours on the weekend & if they earn the time. #DigitalLives
— Chris Devers (@cdevers) January 24, 2013@wbur I don’t think video games are necessarily a bad thing, but shouldn’t displace playing outside, reading, homework, etc. #DigitalLives
— Chris Devers (@cdevers) January 24, 2013
Matt Willis argues that books have a similar immersive quality, and the same argument has been made in the case of reading.@wbur Have they not been influenced in the same ways by books for generations? #DigitalLives
— Matt Willis (@MattWillisDC) January 24, 2013
Jeremy Springfield explains that games are fun and that parents should express an interest in them as well.@wbur #DigitalLives With interest!Games are fun, and aren't 'just for kids'. My Dad was the first to beat Zelda in our household.
— Jeremy Springfield (@jspringfield211) January 25, 2013@wbur Today my Dad is 65, retired and plays MMO's.We played World of Warcraft together in my early 30's. Some parents love #DigitalLives.
— Jeremy Springfield (@jspringfield211) January 25, 2013
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
Patrick Smith echoes sentiments similar to Chris Devers in that gaming is okay in moderation. He suggests imposing a time limit on gaming.
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.