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January 8, 2014
Morning Journal News


I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and connected with family and friends which is of the upmost importance. As a former educator I have a concern about the focus of family and the children constantly texting and staring at their cell phones, iPad, computers, or any other electronic devices. We seem to be losing the importance of connection with the younger generation.

On average kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend between seven and a half hours a day, seven days a week looking for web diversions. "It is like chocolate to the brain," states psychiatrist Gene Cohen. We crave it. At any given moment when the phone rings we are pulled away from our immediate surroundings into the world of elsewhere and others. We turn our attention away from those present.

We are addicted to e-mail, YouTube, or a Facebook "fix." We are risking our children's future. While parents and children are enjoying constant access to everything and everyone on the Internet, we struggle to maintain a meaningful personal connection with each other in our homes.

It is the digital takeover of family. We're stuck with it since society is all wired around it now.

I'm not anti-tech. We do use it to connect with family and friends, for research work and other hobbies. In school it has amazing potential to expand learning. But research shows problems on infant and child development, about narrowing the way the baby brain organizes for lifelong learning.

The connection that begins in the family shapes a child's brain that tech can't replace. Nothing can match the power of our attention and love. Screens and tech cannot match it but they can replace it if we let it happen. Parents, make wise choices how we and our children use tech without sacrificing the one most important thing we can do. That is to have a loving, sustaining and meaningful relationship with our family.

Bob Shilling




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