What Can We Do with an Addiction to Technology?
A few weeks ago, one of our blog readers, Sheena McDonald Clark, wrote:
Tim, as a teacher (and a parent), I am amazed at how much technology kids use in a day. My students would rather be suspended than give up their phone for the day. How will this dependence play into their futures? Yes, technology is useful and helpful, but they seem to have an addiction to it. I did read Generation iY, but I would like to discuss other social issues related to this generation’s inability to only “live online.” I’m afraid what this could lead to in future generations. How will these kids parent, work, or find a balance instead of posting every moment on social media?
This is a legitimate concern for many parents and teachers. It almost sounds cliché, but kids today—from athletes to mathletes—are becoming dependent, even addicted to technology. Pew Research reports that students would rather lose their “small finger” than their smart phone. They place technology in the same category as air and water. Let me suggest some age-old practices that may help:
Five Ideas You Can Practice:
- Teach your young people to balance “screen time” with “face time.” For every hour they spend in front of a screen, they should spend equal hours face to face with people. This will help them keep their soft skills high as they enter a job.
- Place your kids in groups and ask them two questions to prompt discussion: What are the advantages to new technology in our lives? What are the disadvantages to new technology in our lives?
- When spending time in face-to-face conversations, always prioritize those people. Place your phone on silent, and give eye contact with the persons in front of you. This communicates they are the priority and that you can reply to messages later.
- Give assignments that force young people to interface with people from older or younger generations. Whenever we converse with those different from us we grow in our emotional intelligence and in our communication skills.
- Teach your students that whenever they feel they’re slipping into a dependence or addiction to anything—it always helps to take time off. Do a “technology fast” and put your phones, tablets or laptops away for a season. You’ll feel liberated.
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