72 christian counseling today SPECIAL EDITION w ARCH I BALD HART & SYLV I A HART FREJD The Changing Face of Stress What is it about modern technology that demands attention? Scientists warn us that as our brains shift toward new and more stimulating technologies, they drift away from fundamental social and contemplative skills. For example, in overusing social networks, we slowly lose our capacity for empathy. Why? It is impossible to learn and grasp the emotional context of subtle gestures without face-to-face contact. We are also losing the capacity for contemplation (and with it, our ability to worship). In essence, scientists warn that we are “rewiring” the brain for speed, not content! Technology, therefore, is changing the very nature of modern stress. It demands over-engage- ment—a sort of “go-go-go” mentality. The digital world is robbing us of “recovery time,” much needed sleep and rest. This dramatic reduction in leisure time is having a drastic effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual health. We were designed with a need for rest and, when we do not get it, the whole stress response system becomes topsy-turvy. Whereas in earlier times stress came mainly modern stress, technology and parenting We have a serious problem brewing. According to Dr. Gary Small of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research center, “The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate, but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains.” 1 Without a doubt, frequent exposure to digital technology is changing our brains, and the neurological functioning of our children is changing the most. Daily exposure to high technology such as computers, video games, smart phones and Blackberries ® stimulates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release or suppression in ways never before experienced. Many see this phenomenon as an “evolutionary acceleration of alteration,” but not for the good. In our opinion, there is not a more important topic facing parents today. How we train our children to engage modern technology in a balanced way needs urgent attention.