What Our Screens “Steal” From Us

What Our Screens “Steal” From Us
Fecha de publicación: 
1 March 2024
Imagen principal: 

The photo is on social networks and is almost always accompanied by phrases similar to “if she knew how much she is going to miss him…”

But although the image that heads this text is not new, it’s new that children, adolescents and those of early youth haven’t yet experienced the announced regret of having lost the chance to enjoy their grandparents or parents more, changing that unrepeatable time for hours spent in front of screens.

As the saying goes, no one learns from other’s mistakes, and when you are born to the digital world, like the so-called Centennials or the Alpha generation, whose most significant interactions are concentrated above all in virtual spaces, then it becomes difficult to understand certain things.

Some call hyperconnection that permanent connectivity that almost becomes the main source of affections and experiences. But ignoring interpersonal relationships by replacing them with a screen not only occurs in contexts of high technological development, it’s a behavior that is expanding through the most dissimilar realities, despite the well-known digital divide, including Cuba, and affects face-to-face communication, as well as family dynamics.

Access to Internet and its countless options is a magnificent option, an advance in the development of humanity, but excesses, the almost absolute dependence on digital communication, can hinder social skills and the necessary empathy.

They assure that in those who spend many hours online, especially young people, anxiety, depression and loneliness may be more common. At the same time, when comparing their daily existence with the supposedly wonderful lives that social lives exhibit, they could see their self-esteem affected and  plagued by feelings of inadequacy and inability.

According to a recent study carried out by Stanford University, 72% of young people between ages 13-24 consider that social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are an essential part of their lives. Such dependence on these digital platforms has led to a decrease in the quality of personal interactions, with an increase in social anxiety and difficulty establishing deep and meaningful relationships.

Overexposure to screens has also generated a worrying phenomenon known as "phubbing," in which people ignore those who are physically nearby and focus only on their mobile devices.

Thus, at this point, scenes where several friends or relatives remain together but each one remains absorbed in their own digital world are more common than desired.

In family

It’s no coincidence that the great gurus of this digitalized era, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others, prohibit or limit their children's use of mobile devices.

The best-known biographer of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, said that during his visits to the home of the creator of the iPod, the iPhone and other contributions, he noted that his relationship with his children was never focused on alternatives that involved direct use of technology.

The reason given by the inventor: not to kill creativity and avoid abusive use of such implements.

Verbal and non-verbal communication suffer significantly when one or more family members remain together at home with their attention only focused on the cell phone, tablet or computer. Mutual understanding weakens, while important moments can go unnoticed, thus losing what could be shared experiences or unrepeatable memories.

This technological dependence can also generate arguments and conflicts at home, because inattention, not getting involved in the needs of family members or in the home dynamics could be identified as inconsideration, selfishness, disrespect, or worse, lack of love.
Today, situations similar to the one in the photo that heads these lines are also repeated inside many homes, both at lunch time and during a conversation between relatives.

It’s a presence-absence that not only hurts those who feel not taken into account, but also harms its protagonist who, unknowingly, is missing out on everything that emotional communication implies.

How many of those kids who today spend hours and hours in front of their devices may regret later when their grandparents and parents are no longer there: why didn't I ask him? Why didn't I listen to what he told me? Why didn't I hug her then?

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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