Development, the family and technology

BW background - Development, the family and technology

For this column, I will share a vision of family welfare and productivity that was penned some thirty (30) years ago in the crafting of a strategic vision for the then newly reformed Development Bank of the Philippines. I believe it is a yardstick that can be applied to any organization wanting to serve the cause of development. However, the yardstick is now confronted with new hurdles.

“All development must translate into welfare of people in society. But society is made up of subsidiary groupings, the most basic of which is the family. All welfare therefore that development makes possible must be directed towards the benefit of the family. Thus, can development take on a truly human, concrete dimension and thus be brought home to respond meaningfully to the everyday concerns of ordinary people.”

“The basic needs of family must be met so as to strengthen the backbone of society. The requirements for subsistence and nutrition should be adequately met. Education and proper healthcare for all must be made readily available and affordable. Time and opportunity for rest and recreation, reflection and rejuvenation of the spirit, should be provided. A decent house with the most necessary modern conveniences where a vibrant and pleasant home life can be fostered must be owned. Proper arrangements for savings and security to take care of contingencies and old age have to be set up and made operative. Only when these basic needs are met can families be freed from their most immediate concerns; only then can a material base be laid upon which to build strong family ties that help make a unified and happy society.”

“If family welfare, measured in the concrete, is to be the ultimate yardstick of development, then concern for productivity fostered at the family level has to be the true engine for economic growth. Discipline and hard work are attributes that are best fostered within a family setting. Concern for the little things that in the end make a lot of difference is the base for innovation, for entrepreneurial daring, and for commitment to bring about effective results; and these are the imperatives for a progressive society. It is also in the family where lessons on adaptability to change, on teamwork, on harmonious cooperation with others are learned as in a natural environment.”

“No less concrete, therefore, are the demands of productivity which is the concomitant side of welfare in development. All work from whence the family earns the income to provide for its welfare must lead to a product or service whose ability to rise above competition is rooted in its responsiveness to the needs and welfare of the family: whether in affordability, quality utility or durability.”

“Welfare and productivity must go together in the process of economic growth. Justice demands that the level of one must be equated with that of the other. The challenge of development is that the level of both increases quickly and consistently for many generations.”

A development focus on the needs of the family’s welfare has not changed even in this fast paced world. However, technology and social media provide a lot of challenges. Advancement in science which were thought to improve productivity have a way of creating a dark cloud that threatens the vision of family welfare.

A regular parent will want to provide the convenience and best life possible for his/her children so that they become responsible and holistic adults, persons who contribute goodness to society. But the care that have been provided to today’s children has also been criticized as a flawed parenting strategy. In their enthusiasm to nurture their offsprings, parents tell their children that they are always special and can have all the things they want The idea is to boost self confidence but the unintended result is a generation that feels entitled. Couple this with technology and social media and we have provided filters that affect the resiliency of our young people when they finally face the real world.

Technology and social media have been identified to contribute to the growing concern over mental health issues, depression and even suicide. The young finds difficulty in confronting missteps. Small failures are magnified when expectations are unmet. Support mechanisms are artificial and insufficient.

New ways of managing family life have to be crafted to address the negative effects of modern tools that cut both sides. Productivity and innovation as measured in family welfare find itself in a crossroad with unanticipated side effects. The communication needed to harness the human dimensions of development, especially in the family, is shortchanged by expediency brought about by technology.

Development as focused on the family must be cognizant of the towering challenges of the digital age. Today’s world is one characterized by instant gratification and the decline of meaningful human interactions. Cell phones and social media have short circuited many processes essential to developing a healthy emotional human being. Family welfare today must address the constraints being imposed where skill sets on managing relationships and addressing stress are diminished. Concern for productivity fostered at the family level must embrace and hurdle this new dimension.

The views expressed herein are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of his office as well as FINEX.

Benel D. Lagua is Executive Vice President at the Development Bank of the Philippines. He is an active FINEX member and a long time advocate of risk-based lending for SMEs.

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