When my brother and I were growing up in the Midwest, my dad had a big sign — about one foot by two feet — with one word. MODERATION. The sign sat for years, somewhat incongruously, in our living room, so it was impossible to miss when we were watching television, reading, doing our homework, playing games, or entering and leaving the house. It was also perfectly placed for the times when my parents’ college students came over to the house for extra study help.
Dad’s goal was for us to think, as often as possible, about self-regulating and managing our daily activities, whether we were engaged in a favorite or a not-so-favorite endeavor.
In today’s hyper-connected world, understanding the importance of moderation is a critical skill. We all — adults and children — live fast-paced 21st-Century lives that center on the media and our digital devices. Thus everyone needs to know how to hit the pause button, disengage, and refocus attention elsewhere.
There are times when cell phones should be put away. Shouldn’t exercise time be one of those times?
I walk several miles almost every day, sometimes outside and sometimes in, and no matter where I am, I observe lots of people talking on the phone while they move. They may be walking, pushing strollers, on treadmills, or various elliptical trainers or on the street or jogging path — but there they are talking on mobile devices.
The last time I went to the track — my goal that day was to walk three miles — I observed an individual on the phone while pushing a stroller with a wide-awake baby. For as long as I was watching — and I looped the person and the stroller many times on the track — there was no interaction with the child. Moreover, her slowness, trudging and talking in the middle of the track lanes — was an issue with many other exercisers, who needed to give her wide berth every time they approached the stroller. Continue reading “Exercise & Phones — Why Do People Do It?”→
Today, October 13, 2017, the New York Times introduced its new social media policy for people who work in the Times newsroom. Not only is it interesting to read — it may will also become a useful document for educators to share with students. The policy clearly illustrates the advice educators share over and over with 21st Century young people, basically that anything a person puts online can become a public story.
Does too much technology, with our smartphones especially, interfere with the quality and the personal connections in our lives? Do we concentrate less because of the unceasing demands of our digital devices?
I’ve just finished reading Jonathon Safran Foer’s December 2016 article, Technology is Diminishing Us, and he makes thoughtful points about how, despite the good things that 21st Century digital devices bring to our lives, they can also diminish our daily emotional responses and contemplative experiences. The author reflects, with a personal emphasis, on digital distractions that increasingly disrupt of face-to-face communication, and his ideas connect well with the conclusions that Massachusetts Institution of Technology professor Sherry Turkle shares in her books Alone Together and Reclaiming Conversations,also well worth reading.
Foer, whose essay appeared in The Guardian, notes that early on technological innovations aimed to help people more easily accomplish daily life tasks — telephones replaced letters, answering machines supplemented phone calls, email made communication even easier and texting easier still. Each change or invention sought to help people communicate more efficiently and effectively (in theory). Yet all this ease of use comes with caveats. The devices that connect us to others almost all of the time and to unlimited information whenever we seek it, have become electronic busybodies, obsessively notifying, alerting, locating, and suggesting (even when we try to turn many of the features off) as we attempt to concentrate, interact with others, and get things done. Most of us do little to stop these interruptions. Continue reading “Without Moderation & Mindfulness Tech Can Diminish Our Personal Lives”→
Every 21st Century parent needs a holiday digital parenting checklist that describes the tasks to accomplish between purchasing a new digital device and watching a child gleefully unwrap it. This list gives parents a head start, identifying challenges, offering explanations, anticipating problems, and most importantly, setting the stage for responsible and respectful use of exciting but extraordinarily powerful devices.
The time adults spend preparing for new devices that enter a family’s life is well spent and spending that time up front may well prevent a huge time drain later on after a your child experiences a connected world problem. Parents are simultaneously guides, limits setters, and lifeguards, whether or not they know as much about digital life as their children.
I’ve often written about sharenting — defined as digital age parents sharing their 21st Century kids’ photos, stories, and information via Facebook, blogs, and other public online social media.
If you are mulling over the sharenting topic and want more guidance and perspective, take a few minutes to read a just-published article over at Sonya Livingstone’s Parenting for a Digital Future blog. The article, written by Alicia Blum-Ross, Where and When Does a Parent’s Right to Share End Online?, discusses the ways that bloggers who are also parents think about sharing information online and the “digital dilemma” that they experience. Blum-Ross also explores how these parents consider the future that their children will experience while growing up and examining the digital information about themselves.
Summer 2016 is almost here. It’s a great time for family fun, outdoor activities, visiting museums and historical sites, and choosing from all sorts of camps and special programs. Problem is, many kids spend a lot of their summer vacation in front of screens, and it’s one of the hardest time of the year to focus on digital moderation.
With less frenetic schedules and no school, the summer months are a good time for parents to learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of kids’ 21st Century lives. So when school is out, plan to do some connected world exploring and learning together, concentrating on projects that can help family members — children and their parents — connect with interesting and meaningful work together. Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add some variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.
Below are 10 family digital project summer suggestions — all activities require collaboration — to consider for the upcoming summer vacation.