Electronic connections can leave people more divided than ever, family counselor says

KMBZ News Staff
May 24, 2018 - 6:44 am

It is no secret that people around the world have changed, and continue to change, because of the influence of technology, especially smartphones.

A ubiquitous sight in America today is the couple seated at a restaurant table, their eyes cast downward with devices in their hands, barely saying a word to each other. Phones and tablets are creating a wedge between individuals, even in the office of Matt Armstrong, with Armstrong Family Counseling in Overland Park.

"I had a guy walk in the other day with his wife, and the first thing he does is open up his iPad," Armstrong said. "I'm not even sure if he knew why he opened it."

Electronics can prevent people from developing deep, personal relationships with one another and with their children, Armstrong said.

"We can see the effects, long term, of people who didn't have personal connections," Armstrong said. "That's the key part of our mental health, our ability to connect with someone."

Electronics may be a culprit when people realize their relationships are not as satisfying as they could be, Armstrong said.

-- Reducing the influence of technology and social media on youth -- 

A support group of parents in the Kansas City area is facing the challenge of raising kids in the tech environment.

Krista Boan is the founder of "Wait a Bit KC." Members want to delay the influence of social media in the lives of their children. 

"I think it is hard for parents to say no when screens are everywhere, and they can be good and helpful resources for our children," Boan said. "I think it's even harder to take them away than to make a plan early on about what role you want those screens to play in your family's life."

Set to roll out this fall, Boan is piloting a program that is designed to give parents a plan for navigating tech life. Modeling good behavior is a key, Boan said.

"It's so important for us to say, sometimes it's okay for Mommy to be present in the moment, and our children are watching us, and they want us to be present and connected in their lives," Boan said.

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