Co-Regulation and Synchronicity

It is important to remember: with using the phone we took the voice from the face and with texting we took the words from the voice, so we are removing more and more of the cues that our minds need to co-regulate. Click To Tweet

A red analog telephone.




Synchronicity is decreasing

We also have removed the principle of synchronicity, or things occurring at the same time, when we engage in texting. For example, when a text is sent, how long before we get nervous and our bodies react as we wait for a response? If the response is delayed for a period of time, how long a period before your body gets a distress response? Specifically, if we text a loved one, husband or wife, how long a delay can you tolerate? Delay tolerance is not even a question when two people are in the same room but it is a question for the texting world.

Two young boys.

Many children experience distress responses with a delayed response because without having the benefit of being engaged in person-connection all they can go by is response time as a measure of importance. Physiologically we are not wired to engage and to delay. We need a response right away. When it is delayed we can jump to conclusions about why there was a delay. Then we get a response and then what do we do with that response? Without face or voice or synchronicity we react. Possibly we misunderstand the few words. Or without a response, we use capital letters in the text now, because we’re now pounding on a door and no one’s home. Ignored, we react. But an ignored child usually jumps to the conclusion it is their fault.

Reciprocity needed for co-regulation is reduced

The give and take that comes with co-regulation is removed. In face to face discussions we cannot avoid some reciprocity, yet on the phone, there is less and texting requires none. I often tell couples or families ‘you don’t want to work anything out over a phone’. As for texting – it is even worse: please don’t fight over text.

What vulnerabilities are we creating when our forms of communication force us to turn off most of the ways humans have communicated for millions of years? Texting an emoji cannot substitute for seeing and feeling a smile growing on someone’s face. Words are not even needed for much co-regulation. Hugging or holding a hand can lessen the pain of grief – something a text could never do.

A dining room table set with a tablet in front of every place setting.

Does this growing turn-off force us, in turn, to turn off our bodily feelings and even our needs to co-regulate? Perhaps this form of regulation is lessening because interactions that are not in person are too unreliable and the meaning’s too dangerous for us.

In our quest for more and bigger, we have lost the important interactions that happen in a small space. Today, kids are isolated within their own bathroom, bedroom, and playroom. Co-regulation for independence, which is part of healthy development, is being taken away.

Remember the famous book “Bowling Alone”? What was described there as a huge change in society which is even larger now.

As our society moves from socialization to isolation a huge change is affecting all our domains: body, mind, emotions and spirit. Click To Tweet

This is all happening in real time and we have choices to make in each of our lives.



What is synchronicity?

Consciousness in the universe: A review of the ‘Orch OR’ theory  Stuart Hameroff Roger Penrose Physics of Life Reviews Volume 11, Issue 1, March 2014, Pages 39-78

Handbook of Self-Regulation of Learning and Performance
Dale H. Schunk, Barry Zimmerman  Routledge,  May 15, 2011

Distinguishing Emotional Co-Regulation From Co-Dysregulation: An Investigation of Emotional Dynamics and Body-Weight in Romantic Couples  Rebecca G. Reed, Kobus Barnard, and Emily A. Butler

The emergence of mother–infant co-regulation during the first year: Links to infants’ developmental status and attachment

Trees with the text "Try unplugging from your phone and technology for the day. It'll keep you more present, which helps reduce stress." in front of them.

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