When it comes to digital addiction, you can’t always blame it on the youth

There’s not a day that goes by where I am not shocked by how ready parents are to thrust distractive technologies into the hands of their children.

2 years-olds in shopping carts using phones while their parents shop (and also look at their phones).

Toddlers at restaurants with tablets and headphones.

Children riding scooters and bicycles while looking at phones

That’s just some of the things I see on a daily basis.

But, we can’t blame it on the youth.

As a serial tech apologist, I’ve been on an apology and woke tour helping people understand the dynamics, consequences and opportunities of pervasive connectedness.

Yesterday at a local park, I noticed so many parents on their phones while their children played, laughed and enjoyed analog stimulation and engagement. I snapped this picture as just one of many examples.

Look, I get it. We live in a connected world where being connected is just part of life. In fact, it’s weird and antisocial if we’re not connected in most cases.

This is what kids see. This is what kids become.

I couldn’t help but think about the finite freedom of youth, the magic of imagination, the splendor of being in the moment and the intentional choices we make to occupy and shape our personal time. Perhaps the irony and the spark here is that there’s more for us to learn from the kids on the playground than what they see from their parents.

These moments define us and those around us.

Perhaps, we should just blame it on the youth.

Blame it on the youth for teaching us what it means to be young again.

Blame it on the youth for teaching us about the importance of curiosity, imagination and wonder.

Blame it on the youth for showing us the magic of creativity.

Perhaps it’s time for us not to grow up, but instead, grow young.

The truth is, we’ve become digital addicts.

It comes at a cost.

Disconnecting from moments, imagination, wonderment suffocates our creativity and inevitably our happiness and that of our loved ones.

If you have the Moment app on your devices, you’ll see just how easy it is to clock in 2–3 hours a day stuck in what I call the endless scroll and endless swipe…and how we become accidental narcissists in the process.

Whether we know it or now, we’re rewiring our brains and also pushing boundaries of behaviors, acceptability and new norms that are not necessarily better for us or anyone. We’re just now starting to learn about the repercussions of our relationship with technology.

If you have time, please watch my presentation at SXSW 2018 on the subject, “Why You’re Addicted to Smartphones and Social Media.”

This isn’t just about digital wellness and balance or digital detoxes, this is about well-being, creativity and happiness.

It’s time to take control of tech and not let it control us. Let’s help one another…

The first step is awareness.

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet. He’s also a world-renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Design, explores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Invite him to speak at your next event.