Thursday, November 1, 2012

Too Much Technology is Too Much?

I have some Luddite tendencies, but I still get it. Technology sucks you in. I waste plenty of time "reading" snippets of nonsense on-line or checking Facebook or I google stuff I used to remember. I respond surreptitiously to a ding or a buzz in a faculty meeting.

I like to think I am more courteous than most modern-day tech users. My phone is off when I am teaching. It's in my purse when I am at home, hanging up on a hook in the closet. (Call the house phone, we still have one.) The only people I usually text are babysitters. And sometimes Zingerman's delivery-girls for an emergency Zang bar or Sesame Semolina delivery.

But- I have noticed that lots of kids- and adults- have trouble just sitting with themselves, by themselves.  They seem to crave action, wanting something to catch their attention quickly rather than personally choosing where to focus their attention. There's a lot of bells and whistles. Luckily, I have a theatrical flair as a teacher so I don't think this is heavily impacting my instruction, but even so- I do like being still sometimes. I am just as annoyed with a grown-up fiddling with a tech device instead of enjoying human interaction as I am with a young child screaming, only to be made happy with an I-phone app rather than real people (except in cases of long airport delays, extended waiting room stays, etc).

I do think it's too much media, too many screens. The RWH is a fairly low-media environment for kids, almost to the point of making the children weird.  I still remember my shock in the 80's in the 4th grade when a fellow classmate, a somewhat odd girl, told me "We don't have a TV." after I asked her if she saw The Family Circus Christmas special.  I felt so badly for her- it was awesome. Also, this particular girl later developed an unhealthy (and unfortunate) addiction to patterned Keds sneakers in high school- I am not sure if these two things are related. So we don't want it to go *that far* with the RWH kids. But we have noticed that Little Miss RWH is a bit cranky after her Saturday PBS-spectacular. It's just too much coming at her.

I thought the The Family Circus was awesome because it was on TV  and in the newspaper.
It would not be there if it wasn't awesome, would it?

But still, it's too much. I found myself nodding obnoxiously while reading this article about teachers refining classroom practice with today's media-infused students in The NY Times.  Not that I want to hark back to the days of the Waltons, but it's enough to make me think. If your screen time logs enough hours to be a part-time job, is it too much?  I think even as an adult, I need to limit mine more. I'd get more real-stuff done.

I think The NY Times article sums up my thinking well in its closing sentence with a quote by Dmitri Christakis, the Director of the Center for Child, Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children's Hospital: "The heavy technology use...makes reality by comparison uninteresting. Which is a shame, because real-life is pretty amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment