It is commencement season and I have recently enjoyed attending a few college graduations with a few high profile speakers. I have been privileged to hear both Condoleezza Rice at SMU and Robert Gates at University of Texas in Austin, both of whom gave excellent speeches.
I was listening to another interesting speech given by Eric Schmidt at Boston University’s commencement which really hit home with me. Schmidt is the chairman of Google, and while much of his address was directed at the graduates and the many advantages that they would have as “the first fully connected generation” he also made the comment that “computers, while exceptionally complicated, just don’t have a heart”.
While he spoke eloquently about technology and connectivity and his belief that “technology can and has changed the world to be a better place”, he also realizes that being connected on line is not the same social experience as face to face discussions and interactions.
In the middle of his commencement address he charges the students to “take one hour a day and turn that thing off! Take your eyes off that screen and have a conversation, a real conversation. Don’t push a button saying you “like” someone, actually tell them.” (while he is delivering the speech they are showing graduates riveted to their phones and texting rather than listening..very funny).
Eric Schmidt and I have one thing in common, we agree on the importance of human to human contact and interaction. Turning off our computers, phones and iPads and sitting down to read a child a story or have a discussion about the world economy during a family dinner is necessary and important to stay truly connected. (Pick any topic for dinner table discussion).
Singing a song to a child as you take them on a walk (rather than talking on the phone and ignoring the child in the stroller). Play a board game (not on line) or play cards as a family. The list is endless!!
I encourage you to watch his commencement address and make this a topic of conversation with your children. Only 1 hour a day, but what an important hour!
Try it and let me know what you think!