Dr. Archibald Hart & Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
Technology is with us. It is woven into the fabric of our days; more and more we are being pressured into doing business, buying insurance, purchasing groceries, doing banking and paying bills online. Most of our communications are emailed, texted, tweeted, Facebooked. Home phones have been removed from many households in favor of individual cell phones carried (even to bed) by every member of the family. What is all this technology doing to our relationships, our communities and our thought processes?
With the same careful research and astute assimilation of facts that we have come to expect from Dr. Archibald Hart, The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships, cowritten with Dr. Hart’s daughter, Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd, takes on one of the most important issues of our times. Separating the population into two groups—those born before the advent of the Internet (digital natives) and those born after (digital immigrants), the father/daughter psychologists delve deeply into how the “digital invasion” is changing the way we live, work, think and interact with family, friends, associates in the workplace, and people we have never actually met. Indeed, the Internet is redefining “the workplace” and changing the very meaning of the word “friend.”
Change because of invention is nothing new. The invention of the engine followed by new ways of transportation changed the boundaries, first of our communities and, eventually, of our worlds of experience. Household conveniences changed the way we spend our time. The telegraph, the telephone and television changed the way we “tell” — the way we converse. But nothing has changed our lives so drastically so quickly as digital technology and the Internet. And we have just begun to be changed by it in every way.
The Harts are no novices to the digital universe. Their research, writing, communications with counseling clients and much of their ministry in psychology depend on the latest technologies. Yet, they also see the real dangers both for now and future generations, as technology rewires our—and especially our children’s — brains, reducing our ability to reason, contemplate, meditate or even conceive of things eternal. They believe it is limiting our ability to concentrate and contributing to an epidemic of ADD in both children and adults.
According to the authors, the digital invasion is enabling our whole culture to escape real-world relationships and the problem the fantasy worlds of a virtual civilization we can invent, control and manipulate.
Living in a fictional surrounding we can maneuver, exaggerate and edit, then represent as our true-self profiles, seems to be robbing individuals of the ability to separate fact from fiction — making us unable to relate to actual human beings who, of course, have faults, personalities and ideas we cannot control.
I cannot recommend The Digital Invasion highly enough. It is a must-read (and re-read) for parents, grandparents and spiritual and educational leaders. But it is not just a book about the dangers to the younger generation. It is also important for mature adults who more and more seem willing, in order to keep their cell phones, iPads and laptops, to sacrifice almost anything, including conversations with their young children and teenagers, intimate evenings with their spouses and deep face-to-face discussions with associates and friends.
This book is a wake-up call to those of us who would protect and save our Godspaces and who treasure silence and all that is sacred. It is a mandate to protect our — and our children’s — social skills and to develop the moral muscle it takes to set boundaries and to control what more and more is controlling us.
I would encourage everyone to take the “Digital Use Assessment Quiz” (see next page) as provided by Dr. Hart and Dr. Frejd. [The book contains additional helpful tests.] If you feel you need help, advice or counseling, Dr. Frejd is a counselor certified in Internet addiction psychology and is also a spiritual formation facilitator. Her website is TheDigitalInvasion.com.
It is the right time for churches, discussion groups and Bible Study groups to get serious about discussing this issue and give guidance on a technology that can wreck our lives or lead the world to God.
— Gloria Gaither