April 03, 2015

Five Core Needs and Five Lies of Technology by Kathy Koch

Kathy writes, “The lie, 'I deserve to be happy all the time' is one of five I unpack in my new book, Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World.” (2015).  Dr. Koch has some very compelling insights to offer regarding some of the deleterious effects of technology in society today, especially as this relates to raising healthy children.

Time Tuned Into Technology
A report published in 2009 by Stamford University concluded that Americans spend 90% of waking hours staring at glowing rectangles. The lead author of the report, Dr. Richard Menken said, “From the moment they wake up in the morning, to the moment they lose consciousness at night, Americans are in near-constant visual contact with bright, pulsating rectangles.” The researchers identified 30 varieties of glowing rectangles that play some role throughout the course of each day and offered, "We discovered in almost all cases that Americans find it enjoyable and rewarding to put their faces in front of glowing rectangles for hours on end,". Though there are many true benefits to the current technological revolution, it's a fact that increasingly engaging technology can be addictive and can have a more serious impact on children that have more difficulty in separating truth from fiction in media.

The Five Core Needs of Life

The fixation with artificial intelligence and virtual video worlds is especially poignant when we consider the types of media directed at children and how it influences their perception of reality and values. Dr. Koch doesn't just outline the problems. In another book, Authentic Hope, she goes into depth regarding how our sense of identity controls our behavior and how our five core needs can be met in much healthier ways than with video games. As you review the five core needs, it's easy to see how a video-game world offers a very warped perspective on addressing these needs at an impressionable age of life. The first need is for security—Who can I trust? The second, identity—Who am I? The third, belonging—Who wants me? The fourth is for purpose—Why am I alive? And the fifth, competence—What do I do well? The full title of that book is Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness: 5 Questions That Will Change Your Life (2005).

The Five Lies of Technology
John Stonestreet of BreakPoint Ministries discussed some aspects of Kathy Koch's work. "So Kathy begins her book by reminding us of the five core needs that all of us have: the first is the need for security—Who can I trust? The second, identity—Who am I? The third, belonging—Who wants me? The fourth is for purpose—Why am I alive? And the fifth, competence—What do I do well?"
Technology can help us to address many of our important needs, but it can also foster misunderstandings about the real world. And this is the starting place wherein Kathy addresses the types of lies engendered when children wrap their sense of reality around video games and technological trappings.
Koch clarifies, “and I don’t think we need another book about how much time [with technology] is appropriate. What I wanted to do was write a book that helped parents and teachers and pastors…understand how children’s beliefs and behaviors are being influenced by the technology we let them use.”
Koch contends that constant use of smart phones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, and cable television has inculcated five major lies in today’s teens.

The first lie: We are the center of the universe. “Whether it’s caller ID, on-demand streaming music, or HBO television, modern young people seldom have to wait for someone else to broadcast the entertainment or information they want. They set their own schedule. And that, believes Koch, has created the false impression that reality revolves around them.”

The second lie: Technology tends to foster in young minds is that we all deserve to be constantly happy. [Kids] can multitask,” explains Koch. “They can avoid something that’s boring or too hard, because there’s always something different they can do. We live in a culture now where everything is instant, everything is new.” 
The third lie: Constant access to technology teaches teens is that they must always have choices. “Our young people’s brains are being wired to expect choice because everything they play with has a dropdown menu,” explains Koch. “You can think of TV, cable, your DVR, email, Facebook, other social media applications, your cell phones—there’s this list of options. So their brains are actually wired to expect choice…”

The fourth lie: Technology often teaches teens that they’re autonomous authorities. “Behind the keyboard or the touch-screen, it often feels like we’re the ones in charge.  This false confidence in self-determination makes submitting to outside authorities like parents, professors, employers, and pastors more difficult. And it doesn’t just afflict teens. Modern parents, as well, often have difficulty accepting orders. So overcoming this lie means a lot more than unplugging devices. It means modeling obedience and submission to teens.”

The fifth lie: Well, we'll save at least one for when you read the book so as to not to present too much of a spoiler.

The current American obsession with having fun is reinforced with techno toys: “Instead of having to concentrate on a dull task at hand, today’s teens can whip out their smart phones and check their social media accounts. And coupled with a World Wide Web that’s designed to distract them with cheap laughs, quick thrills, and endless cat videos, it’s a recipe for wasted time. Not only that, but this barrage of distractions sets up the false expectation that fun is a way of life, rather than a limited experience. And when churches and authority figures reach out to young people with yet more promises of fun and games, they see right through it.”
Today’s kids need to be engaged,” says Koch. “They don’t need to be entertained. And I’ve had so many young people tell me they appreciate that perspective. They find it insulting that we’re actually trying to keep them happy.”

Take time to teach your children well.

To motivate children to succeed, we can take on three distinct roles. One is to be a teacher. We must do more than just tell children what to do and yell at them if they don’t do it. We must teach them what to do and what not to do. We must teach them how to do it.” -

IMO Dr. Kathy Koch has presented some very helpful and thoughtful approaches and resources that parents can dig into and use on a daily basis. What's your opinion on this subject?

Tags: List of five lies of technology, quotes by Kathy Koch, fifth lie of technology Koch, meaning of glowing rectangles, glowing rectangles quote, raising healthy children today

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