Original Post Date: September 24, 2019

Author: Melissa Verheyen, M.A., C.C.C. 

The parks in my neighbourhood were empty this summer. The street in front of my house was quiet. My children’s laughter echoed in the silence of long summer afternoons. The words of an out-of-town visitor linger in my memory, “Your kids are outside. I don’t see that much anymore. My daughter just wants to be on her iPad.” My heart aches with the truth of this statement. 

I find myself ruminating lately about the space that electronic devices have in my life. As the mother of four young children, I’m concerned for their future. I question what we as adults are modelling for our youth when we respond to every email, ding, text or notification but miss the opportunities for connection right in front of us. I worry about the alarming rates[1][2][3]and anecdotes of anxiety and depression linked to screen time in youth.  I am apprehensive about the impact that social media has on our sense of identity as we cultivate images for likes, tweets and instant gratification. These concerns are only the tip of an iceberg that is beginning to take shape beneath murky water.

Like generations before me, I find myself longing for simpler times. And yet, we were born for such a time as this. To wrestle with the tension of seemingly endless technological advances and the preservation of human connection. While these are not mutually exclusive, without intention the former can erode the fabric of the latter.

I am not advocating that we abandon all technology or that we must be fully present and engaged in every moment of our lives. However, I feel this persistent call lately to examine my own values and priorities regarding the use and accessibility of devices within my home and then to do something so that my home and my life reflect more closely the things that matter to me most. 

So, the question I raise is one that I am considering in my own world:

“How much space and time do devices take in our lives and how does this fit with what we value most?”

[1]Baer, Susan, M. D., PhD., Saran, K., M.D., Green, D. A., PhD., & Hong, I., B.A. (2012). Electronic media use and addiction among youth in psychiatric clinic versus school populations. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(12), 728-35. Retrieved from doi:https://login.libproxy.uregina.ca:8443/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1269495973?accountid=13480on February 9, 2017.

[2]Maras, D., Flament, M., Bucholsd, A., Henderson, K., Obeide, N., & Goldfield, G. (2015). Screen time is associated with depression and anxiety in Canadian youth. Preventative Medicine, 73, 133-138. Retrieved from https://www.neuroscience.md/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Screen-time-associated-with-depression-and-anxiety-in-youth.pdfon September 23, 2019.[3]Martin, K. (2011). Electronic Overload: The Impact of Excessive Screen Use on Child and

Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. Department of Sport and Recreation, Perth, Western Australia. Retrieved from  https://www.natureplaywa.org.au/library/1/file/Resources/research/K%20Martin%202011%20Electronic%20Overload%20DSR%20(2).pdfon September 23, 2019.