The picture is my youngest daughter with an iPad. She will turn two in late December. I recently made folders on the iPad, and with out any instruction, she figured out where her favorite apps were. She enjoys drawing and animal apps, the ones that make the animal noises. And yes, we have set her down in front of the iPad when we need a minute or two to finish dinner. But as soon as I grab a book, or flop down on the floor, she will ignore the iPad to interact with me. But will that always be the case?
A few weeks ago the boys had their first basketball practice. The whole elementary basketball league met at the high school for this practice. There were some high school boys helping, and a few other boys that may have been there to help but were goofing around at an open basket.
Two of the boys were on the basketball team and were dressed in practice gear. The third boy was dressed in jeans and a too-large polo shirt. They were shooting crazy shots, doing alley-oops, just being teenagers. Burning off energy and having a fun time. Honestly, I was watching them with a touch of jealousy as they jumped to see if they could touch the rim. I remembered all those younger days when my friends and I would do the same thing. Some milestones of adolescence do not change; other aspects do seem to be changing.
The three of them were lost in the moment, simply being friends, simply having fun. Then a cell phone went off. The boy in the jeans immediately grabbed his phone and sent a quick text. That changed everything, the simplest yet powerful connection of that moment was gone. One of the boys went off to help a group, the boy in the jeans and the other boy tried to continue to play, but the cell phone was now the most important thing.
Technology had become the focus. At one point the boy in the jeans was throwing alley-oop passes to the other one. The boy had the ball in his hands when his phone went off again. Ball in one hand, he pulls out the phone to check the text message. Without even looking at his friend, he simply rolls the basketball toward the basket. His attention now fully on the phone. His friend grabbed the ball and walked off. It saddened me.
I love technology, but this life is about people, about relationships. Technology allows us even greater opportunities to connect with friends and family. It gives us a chance to make connects with people we normally would never had been able to before. But at this time when the definition of Friend is “click accept.” That a text message on the phone has to be answered right now, no matter what is happening. We need to make the focus on the connection to people, not on the means of making the connection.