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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 2:36 am | Fair 45º


Finding Balance Between Real and Digital Worlds Topic of Family Service Agency Reception

More than 50 Family Service Agency supporters attended the charity’s annual President’s Circle Reception on Oct. 20 at the home of Jim and Shirley Ann Hurley to celebrate FSA’s accomplishments and hear from guest speaker Dr. Winifred Lender on finding balance between the real and digital worlds.

Dr. Lender, Santa Barbara psychologist, author and Noozhawk columnist, gave a fascinating talk on the challenges and benefits of living in the digital age.

Our digital reality is a relatively new phenomenon, and like most novel inventions, we have embraced it, with little thought to how it influences our development and health. Research shows that digital use impacts our relationships with others, sleep and attention. She also pointed out that a subset of people become addicted to digital devices.

“We use digital devices to keep us company when we are alone, prevent us from being bored and soothe us when we are anxious,” Dr. Lender said. “The use of these devices has grown significantly over the past several years. Currently, adults spend an average of almost nine hours daily in front of a screen (TV, cell phone, laptop or computer), and much of this time is spent multitasking with two or more devices.”

In fact, parental abuse of digital devices has the potential to create deep emotional consequences for their children. Studies show that becoming second fiddle to their parent’s cell phone, for example, tells kids they aren’t interesting or worth their parents’ time.

Dr. Lender also outlined the many benefits of technology including quick and easy access to information, social networking, enhanced productivity and entertainment. She recommends developing a digital plan that clarifies how you want to interact with the digital world; removing digital devices from the bedroom at night as they can interfere with sleep; taking digital vacations; and knowing the signs of digital dependence.

Due to the enthusiastic response to the topic, Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara plans to host a public forum on the impact of the digital world on our mental health and relationships in February 2015.

— Melinda Johansson is the marketing manager for the Family Service Agency.

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