Special Report: Tethered to Technology
Charlotteans struggle to balance work and personal life as technology exposure increases.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Rings, buzzes, tones and beeps. It's a way of life for Ryan Ray.
"I got bit by the technology bug back when I was in college and I just haven't recovered since," admits Ray.
Ray is an IT professional by trade, so being "always on" is expected. "My wife says I play too much on the computer when I'm at home especially since I'm on it all day at work and stuff but I like to stay connected with my friends."
Ray says his work life and social life are balanced. The same can't be said for many young people. Studies from Northwestern University and the Kaiser Family Foundation reveal 8 to 18 year-olds now use an average of nearly 8 per day of entertainment media. Compare that to 16 to 20 minutes per day spent on homework.
Monica Schroeder sets strict screen time rules with her three sons but says some supervised screen time can be fun. "There are times when we we're all sitting together as a family Facebooking each other."
Psychologist Dr. Patrick O'Connor says when screen time gets too long kids communication skills suffer. They make less eye contact and struggle with understanding emotions.
Schroeder experiences that first hand with her 4th grade son. "Sarcasm. He doesn't get that type of thing because he's used to screen time. So, we're trying to break him out of that and make him go out more and be more interactive with people," she says.
Dr. O'Connor says the best strategy to not get tethered to technology is to set aside one day a week where no screens are used. "No TV, no cell phones, no tablets, no computer, no anything except just each other."
No matter your age, if turning all your screens off for 6 hours on a Friday night makes you sweat, it may be time to loosen the technology chains.