Our homes, our cafes and our offices have changed. Our eyes now glazed on phones and screens not on each other. Our kids less likely to venture out, instead lounging in bed socializing via phones and social networks. Increasingly, we are missing from each other’s lives but fail to notice this absence. We view this as the “new normal.” We believe we cannot change the way things are. We are not completely wrong. Our smartphones, screens and digital communication are here to stay. But, we can take action to regain control of our time, attention and social interactions. This blog is about the choices we still have.
I am a law professor and a parent of three children. I write and teach about technology. I like technology. Perhaps too much. I spent many years checking email and Facebook incessantly; surfing the Internet looking for everything or nothing in particular. I watched my kids grow up into a reality of smartphones, iPads and online communications. Eventually I realized the costs. The impact of hours of screen time, without live human interaction, on our physical and mental well-being. I looked up from my screens and started observing and journaling what I saw. I began doing things differently. For myself and for those around me.
People often ask me: what can we do? My goal in this blog is to answer this question. What strategies can we use at home, with friends or at work to limit the time we spend on our devices and reduce our reliance on digital interaction. Making change individually is definitely possible. But it is hard. I know this. It is difficult because our technologies are designed to keep us hooked. Our smartphones and our social networks are made to attract our attention and maximize the time we spend on them.
Group action and cooperation are crucial. The first step for group action is seeing the problem and realizing that we have options. I do not intend to deny the many advantages of digital communication. But, in this blog I will highlight the costs to our everyday quality of life, relationships and even ability to be happy. I will also explain how we can unite to transform the law to raise awareness and create market pressure to change the way our technologies are designed. This blog is about the opportunities that lie ahead.