Do you ever feel like the mother in the below picture when you witness your family, couples at a restaurant or your team in a meeting consumed by technology? If the continued use of technology makes you stew, than you must hate puppies too.
In a recent discussion with some of my Millennial peers, I was floored to hear how many of them blame “gizmos” for the deterioration of interpersonal skills and the polar ice caps (okay, maybe not the last one but they made it seem that dire). They blame out of fear…fear of change. Which makes me increasingly worried when my fellow digital natives are expressing this fear considering we are the generation best equipped to adapt to this change due to our digital upbringing.
Today's “gizmos" aren’t to blame for all the terrible things in the world. The problem isn’t technology...it’s the user. The atrophy of communication and connection is a leadership, parenting and self-discipline issue not a technology issue.
Technology is a tool. Used appropriately and it can enhance connection and communication. We can leverage technology to video chat with far away friends or to work from home and increase the time spent with family. Abused or not modeled well by leaders and parents then technology quickly contributes to disconnection and miscommunication. I think here lies the major issue: today’s emerging generations do not have adequate role models who balance online and offline activities well. Those setting the examples are either overly consumed by technology trying to keep up and chasing every new shiny digital object or they completely dismiss technology out of ignorance. Both of which are extremely unhealthy and in many cases are leaving the emerging generation to fend for themselves.
As leaders, parents or employees we must be quick to implement guardrails around the effective use of technology but we must never deny its use. Tech is a tool to create, connect and move us forward. You wouldn’t deny a budding painter her paintbrush. Fast Company editor, Robert Safian, captured it perfectly in his brilliant “Generation Flux” article: “It is irresponsible not to use the tools of today.”
Technology and the “gizmos” can bring great simplicity and comfort to our chaotic world. The same simplicity and comfort experienced when you stroke the soft fur of a puppy or are met at the front door by that same lovable puppy. So it’s clear that if you continue to hate technology you in fact hate puppies as well. Okay, admittedly that was a stretch but it got you to read this far ;) Just remember...
Don’t hate. Embrace and integrate.
Question: How will you become a better technology role model?