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The World Beyond A Screen

Updated on December 13, 2015

When you think of visiting the elderly, some stereotypical phrases and lines may come up during your thought process. To me, the most intriguing one would have to be “When I was your age…” As a kid, it was an eye-rolling type of interaction each time an adult said that to me. I never really understood why people said that; I always wondered why it would impact me as a ten year old to hear about how the world was many years ago. And now as time progresses, I find myself saying that very line to my younger cousins and sister more and more.

The reality of it is; it doesn’t actually change a child’s life in the present moment to hear about how the world looked and sounded years ago. However depending on their age, it does make them imagine and think about what it would be like to live in the world at the same time as their grandparents or even their parents. I remember hearing how my mother would ride her bike down the streets of the same city I live in now with her friends and her curfew would be dinner time. I heard how my father walked down the street with his friends to a local neighbor’s backyard where a small frozen pond was awaiting hockey players to skid across its surface.

The interesting part of those two instances would be that my parents were young when these stories happened and were unsupervised during these adventures around their hometowns. From the time I arrived home from China until about middle school, I was supervised any time I left the house. I would ride my bike with my Dad by my side and stay close by to my Mom in grocery stores until my early teen years.

To make my own “When I was your age” story, I think it would begin as the following: When I was your age, parents held their child’s hands as they crossed the street. You never see that anymore, but it’s recently becoming more common to see a caretaker crossing the street as the leader with the child lagging behind. When I was your age, my household’s rule was “work before play” which actually helped my academics significantly as homework always came before playing board games or watching TV. But most importantly, when I was your age, I wasn’t attached to technology and the internet and WiFi.”

Instead of watching TV shows on tablets and mobile devices, I was outside drinking from hoses and running around in my grassy backyard, pretending to make backyard camp fires with my sister and cousin, and I was transitioning from training wheels to a two wheeler bike with bruised knees, helmet hair and great balance to show for it. In summary, I had what I would consider a great childhood. In this world we live in now, I look around and see children, younger and younger these days, with their eyes glued to a screen. All I can say is that I wasn’t taking “selfies” in grade school, I wasn’t searching for the answers to test questions through a search engine, and above all, I wasn’t constantly talking and interacting with my friends and family through a piece of technology. It seems as if people of all ages are joining this technology epidemic, so suddenly people of all ages are tagging each other in their pictures through social media as grandparents are discovering the power of the internet.

I’m not implying that I am not a part of this change in the world that has impacted everyone’s everyday lives so drastically at all. I seem to have every type social media out there, I text my friends and family daily and it’s my phone usage that is sucking up all the data on my family’s cell phone plan. I’m just as guilty as the next 18 year old of becoming WiFi dependent and have become more apt to send a text of appreciation to my friends through social media than saying it to them in person.

So many aspects of our lives are being affected by technology. The way words are communicated has become much different than ever before. This impacts the functioning of relationships and friendships, as they are becoming more complex with typed messages are now becoming a normal form of communication instead of sitting down and having a conversation by talking face to face. Human interactions are much different now than ever before. I used to write thank you notes to my friends and family on my birthdays, however now I find myself sending them a quick thank you text or appreciation post on social media instead of a phone call or seeing them in person to express my gratitude towards them.

In short, the world is still spinning and life is still happening outside of the internet. If you take a few minutes out of each day to look up from your screen, the world seems like more of a diverse and larger setting than we have seen it in the past. The world is a really big place, full of opportunity and changing every day, but you have to look up long enough to see it. If you’re anything like me, you are realizing that technology is quickly consuming your life. Now, I am trying to live differently, in such a way that I call people instead of texting, I write letters to people and send them in the mail and I hug my parents goodnight every night, just like I did after a long day of running around in my backyard.


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