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”→
Will new devices, robots and other items that connect to the Internet with your wifi be arriving in your home during this 2016 holiday season? If so, check out this post about maintaining digital wellness in your family.
These days everyone talks about personal wellness — those steps that people need to take to remain physically and mentally healthy and strong. But what about digital wellness? Poor digital health affects not only our connected lives, but also our physical and mental well-being.
Digital wellness is about fine-tuning the 21st Century skills that we use to work and play in a connected world, and it also involves understanding number of common myths about the nature of online life. Helping family members take steps to develop digital wellness habits can challenge parents, mainly because many children, pre-adolescents, and teens appear to be far more advanced online consumers than their parents. Underneath the veneer of digital native expertise, however, are a fair number of information gaps.
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.
Anonymity presents digital kids with a complicated social obstacle — one they must confront and understand if they are to protect themselves from potential problems. Digital anonymity is not a friendly concept for growing children. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s downright dangerous, but app makers continue to offer the feature. For now these apps are a part of many digital kids’ daily lives, often negatively affecting their digital wellness.
No child with a connected device is immune from possible trouble caused by anonymity, because issues can arise in an instant, often as a part of routine online social interactions. Anonymous opportunities take advantage of kids’ developing brains, encouraging them to make public mistakes in judgment, and enabling young people, sometimes as young as third or fourth grade, to act and communicate with less and less restraint. A mistake made with an app’s anonymity feature can be hurtful or humiliating.
A recent study, about parents, children and the technology rules that families adopt will be a terrific resource for schools and parent groups to share. Most parts of the research paper are fairly easy to read as are two articles, one from the University of Washington and the other from the University of Michigan. The research findings, with an extra focus on children’s expectations, are full of discoveries and observations that schools may want to share, almost word for word, with the parents of digital kids.
Alexis Hiniker and Julie A. Kientz at the University of Washington and Sarita Y. Schoenebeck at the University of Michigan conducted the study about digital life rules that parents make and enforce and the expectations that digital kids and their parents have of one another. A National Science Foundation research grant supported the academic work.
When my brother and I were growing up in the Midwest, my dad had a big sign — about one foot by two feet — with the word MODERATION. The sign sat in the living room, just off the study, so that it was impossible to miss when we were watching television, reading, doing our homework, playing games, eating, and entering or leaving the house. Dad’s goal was for us to think as often as possible about self-regulating and managing what we did each day, even when we were even engaged in a favorite (or not so favorite) activity.
Understanding the importance of moderation is increasingly critical today as we live 21st Century lives that center on the media and on the digital devices that we — and our children — carry around all day long. Read an earlier post on moderation.
You hear a lot these days about people eagerly pursuing their passions — which is great — but we don’t hear nearly as much about moderation. Understanding how to moderate and, yes, self-regulate daily activities is a digital world literacy skill for everyone at every age. For each child who cannot disconnect from Minecraft or other video games, there’s an adult, often a parent, who can’t put the phone down while taking a walk with kids or who uses the phone while driving. Everyone needs to learn how to moderate and disengage, and possessing these skills helps people develop digital strength and wellness. Continue reading “Building Habits of Moderation into the Conversation & the Curriculum”→