WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2013

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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family matters "consider creating technology-free zones" Is Being Always Connected Hurting Our Relationships? Sheryl Turkle, a professor at MIT and author of Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, is clear in her answer to this question: Yes. Although we are in touch with people 24/7 though our multiple screens, Turkle's research shows that our capacity to relate to others and to ourselves is diminishing as a result of our hyper-connectivity. How is this possible when we seem to be in touch with so many people, so often? According to Turkle, life in the connected lane is edited; photos are retouched, texts pre-mediated, and uncomfortable pauses removed. Screen life allows us to present ourselves as we might want to be. The problem is that this sets up false expectations; what is edited out is the stuff of real life and real relationships. "Human relationships are rich and they're messy and they're demanding," Turkle says. "And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for connection. We shortchange ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring." As an example, Turkle cites an 18-year old boy who uses texting "for almost everything" who said to her, "Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I'd like to learn how to have a conversation." Turkle urges us to take note. "If you don't regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you'll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so." Similarly, Turkle warns that our hyper-connection is adversely impacting our capacity for solitude, which she describes as, "the ability to be separate, to gather yourself." The default for not being able to be alone is to be always reaching out to someone or something; but this is actually needi- make us feel less alone," Turkle says. "But we're at risk because it's the opposite that's true. If we're not able to be alone, we're going to be more lonely. And if we don't teach our children to be alone, they're only going to know how to be lonely." a bit out of balance. Technology's lure will only continue to grow as It is also useful to consider the quality of the media experiences that digital experiences become more personalized and coordinated — our children are getting. What are they doing on their devices? How games and trivia delivered via phone that relate to the show you are might their screen activity be positively or negatively affecting their watching on your TV or tablet — so developing an awareness of our development, learning, and skills? Talking with our kids to see how relationship with the screens in our lives is an important first step in being on Facebook or Instagram feels to them and playing their video choosing where we put our time and attention going forward. games with them can be helpful points of reference. We can start with ourselves. What kind of role models are we? How A third question to consider is what we are not doing as a result of much time are we spending engaging with the world through our our constant digital engagement. We know technology can make our screens? When and where are we when we connect? Why? And we can lives better. Might a tech break do similarly? The best way to answer ask this of our children, paying close attention to what is deemed this question is to just do it. Take a walk, build a go-cart, read a book, appropriate for their age. Keeping a simple log over the course of a few connect with friends, or go to bed a bit earlier. See how it feels. We l l e s l e y We s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 3 days — on your device of choice — can be quite useful. If it becomes clear that our families can benefit from being a little less connected, as a family and comparing it to our personal experiences can help each consider creating technology-free zones. These spaces can be physical of us be thoughtful about technology and take charge of how we or temporal—bedrooms or during dinner, while kids are studying, or engage with it. It can keep the computer chips in our devices and not in the evenings after a certain time. 166 Finally, stay on top of the research. Discussing the findings together ˇ in the center of our faces as Cerný depicted. PETER BAKER ness, not generosity or friendship. "We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to

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