Thursday, February 19, 2015

Digital World

Digital World

I’m in love with my phone, iPad and laptops. Yes, that is plural on laptop. My devices have expanded my world in multiple ways. I’m informed, connected and entertained without bounds. I travel the earth via Internet. And, I can work anywhere.

I’m also in conflict with my phone, iPad and laptops. Being constantly connected to everyone all of the time too often keeps me from living right where I am in the moment. There is a diminishment of the gritty and sweet encounter of the senses with reality. And, I can work anywhere.

I’m almost certain that the students in the Middle School don’t experience the same conflicts I, an immigrant to digital world, do in regard to technology. They have other conflicts when it comes to their devices and constant connectivity – social vulnerability and positioning being number one on the list.

But, like me, they know relief when they turn off devices and set them aside (unless they have an addiction). On school trips, I’ve witnessed their relief and the unleashed joy of ‘living in the moment’ when reports to their many social networks are put on hold.

As educators and parents, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and immerse ourselves as much as possible in the digital world so that we can ‘be there’ for our children.

Suggestions for parents:

1. Collaborate with your child on a digital contract that mirrors your family’s values.

2. Be realistic in setting connectivity parameters. Cell phones and social networking are your teen’s world.

3. Trust your child giving her/him space within safe bounds.

4. Check in devices before bedtime.

5. Keep devices out of the bedrooms.

6. Set device-free meals whether at home or in a restaurant.

7. Consider setting other device-free family hours or activities

8. Model disciplined use of devices.

9. Protect your family’s eyes with blue-light filters.

Suggestions for students:

1. Pause and think before you text and send.

2. Don’t respond to every message or post.

3. Don’t believe everything you read online. Be skeptical!

4. Avoid sites that allow anonymous commentary.

5. Protect your personal information (and your family’s).

6. Ask yourself, if all of your sites with your comments and photos were open to all the people you love and who love you, would you have regrets.

7. Take time off from your devices. Turn them off.

8. Protect your eyes with blue-light filters.

If you are looking for some resources, here a few that offer guidelines for developing healthy relationships with our devices and a few that remind us of why time off tech is important. There are many more.

This is a general site that provides recommendations and links for further education:

While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides the following straightforward guidelines, your family life and values dictate the variations:
· Children under two years of age should receive no screen time whatsoever.
· Kids aged two and up should spend no more than one to two hours a day in front of monitors and displays.

This article in the NY Times cites beginning research that supports the benefits of learning to handwrite and print.