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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Is Technology Helping or Hurting?

I want to hear from you. This is a question that tens of thousands of people, young and old, are debating today: is technology helping or hurting our relationships?

Fact: According to a nationwide survey by RSCG, 50% of Americans say they know someone whose relationship started with on-line interactions. 53% believe on-line is normal or mainstream.

Fact: 64% say they believe the Internet has made it easier for people to cheat on their partners and 31% say they know someone whose relationship ended because of their on-line actions. This may be both an Internet “affair” or pornography.

A growing number of teens and young adults say they’ve never had sexual contact with another person according to the largest federal report to date. Among teenagers (ages 15-17) 58% of girls and 53% of guys say they have not had sexual contact, up almost 10% from five years ago. Many of them say internet exposure helped prevent them from doing it. Hmmm. I think this can be very positive.

At the same time, cyber bullying is growing and breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend through a text (instead of a face to face conversation) is up as well. This is not good for our relationships.

Let’s start a conversation: do you think technology has been more of a help or more of a hindrance to the quality of our relationships?



  1. Guest on March 11, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I want to apologize in advance for the long comment but you’ve asked a question that I’ve been thinking of an answer to for a while now 🙂

    It’s a great question to ask that I believe has an easy answer. It’s helping if used in moderation. It’s not helping if there is no moderation.

    Personally I love technology. I’m 25 so I do remember life without cell phones and a home computer. I like having technology around. It has been a great way for me to eliminate or reduced down mundane tasks that cost an enormous amount of time.

    An example would be, when I was 12 if I wanted to see if my friend wanted to come over and watch a movie, I would walk down to his house, see if he was home and then walk back. Now all I have to do is to pick up my cell phone and ask.

    The drawback of course is that there are many who use technology without limitations. That is dangerous. In my example, the gain of technology is time but the cost is my health because of a lack of exercise. So I must compensate for that. I think many don’t consider this.

    One more example of this would be what my wife and I did recently. We decided to eliminate our digital TV. We reduced our channels down from 200+ to 12 and handed back our DVR box. There are some shows that my wife enjoys watching but they are available online so not much sacrifice it would seem.

    Well I use our 1 laptop quite often, so here is a problem. I suggested a netbook would be a good solution but my wife was also saving for an e-reader. The solution was the ipad. With the release of the ipad2 the ipad had dropped in price so I ended up saving money by killing two birds with one stone and significantly reducing down a growing cable bill.

    I believe technology has been a blessing to us but just like the children of Israel when they took more manna than what God had told them to, it can become a curse too. If we consider all the benefits and all the costs then we will be fine.

  2. Elisewarner on March 11, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I agree with Jamie’s comment(s) below… Technology is helpful but there are obvious challenges as well. Personally, technology has allowed me the opportunity to connect with (and in some case, re-connect with) so many people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the time or ability to keep in touch with. ie: My 1st grade teacher is a facebook friend. How cool is that? There are countless school mates from many years ago that I am able to connect with thanks to technology. I am able to keep up with high school friends, college friends, business associates (past and present) and technology allows glimpses into the lives of those we care about and we get to know them on a more personal level.

    However, I believe that a downside to technology may be the decline in the ability to “feel”… really, “feel” empathy and/or the ability to connect with others in a deep, meaningful way. Technology and emoticons can never replace a real smile, for example, when congratulating a friend on good news. There is something powerful and healing in spoken words. What about a hug or reaching out and holding a hand? Technology doesn’t come close. So often, I see an email or a facebook message with a request for prayer… how easy it is to send off an “I’m praying for you” message but then how quickly does that issue slide down my list of priorities? Would it remain a higher priority if I had an actual conversation with that person? Just a thought.

    My 6 year-old niece has grown up on the computer and knows how to use the i-phone better than some adults I know. However, there have been lots of times that I’ve been visiting at my brother and sister-in-law’s house and my niece is completely distracted by the computer… there have been countless times that we’ve tried to have a conversation or simply say “good bye” but she is so wrapped up in whatever is online, that she is completely alienated from the human conversations and ability to “connect” that is happening 5 feet away from her. That’s a challenge that we all struggle with these days whether we’re 6 years old, or 60. Technology has infiltrated ever corner of our lives that it is difficult for many of us to take the time to turn it off and focus on our interpersonal relationships. That’s scary to a lot of people. Quite frankly, that’s scary to me. If I leave home without my cell phone, I feel completely lost, like my day will not function without it. The idea of going somewhere that doesn’t have technology makes some of us cringe. In this crazy, fast-paced life that we live, I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t be completely beneficial to all of us if we make a conscious decision at times to “unplug”…turn off the lap top, the cell phone, the television….. take the time to invest in ourselves and our relationships, sans technology.

    Technology is helpful. It opens so many doors for relationships and it has drastically improved productivity in our personal and professional lives. Someone once told me that any strength taken to an extreme can become a weakness. I think this could be said of technology. It has so many benefits but taken too far, technology not only can become a weakness, it can rob us of our lives and personal relationships so we just need to take advantage of the benefits that it offers, and at the same time, be mindful that we don’t become completely oblivious to the world around us (family, friends, etc.)

    It is great to enjoy the bells and whistles that technology offers but I think we need to make deliberate decisions to stop every once-in-a-while, unplug and be still. Mother Theresa once said, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

    Hmmm. Something to think about.

    • Guest on March 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

      I really like your perspective on that and I can really relate to deliberately stopping. Last night when my wife and I came home from work we went for a walk for about an hour and left the cell phones at home.

      We had meaningful conversation and were able to reconnect after both of us had been apart for most of the day due to work. It strengthened our lives and our marriage. We would have missed out on that if the TV won out over the walk.

  3. jd on March 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Tim, with two teenagers I can only say we “battle” for time with our daughters due to their
    ongoing, constant communication thru these sources. One may be thru social networking, the
    other texting all the way. What appears to be a “normal” household setting, actually is a front
    due to issues that are ALWAYS present due to the one click and instant messaging. Yea, helped in a lot of ways, but overall I believe it has has been a major hindrance. Regardless of how people meet, at some point they have to be “real”, face to face.

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Is Technology Helping or Hurting?