Has Your Family Reached A Tech Tipping Point?

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In a recent post, I shared some excerpts from The Atlantic article titled Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  While my answer to the question would be no, I do think that we need to set clear boundaries with our children regarding their online habits.  My feeling is that too many parents (myself included) do not model device use well. In addition, there is no discussion and/or game plan for the use of devices by their kids.

As we head towards the start of a new school year, it is a perfect time for families to find some balance in their technology use. Research conducted by Common Sense Media shows the following:

On any given day, parents of American tweens and teens average more than nine hours with screen media each day. Eighty-two percent of that time (almost eight hours) is devoted to personal screen media activities such as watching TV, social networking, and video gaming, with the rest used for work.

Common Sense Media also provides some great resources for families to help them construct a plan to gain some control over the time they spend online.  Here are a few recommendations from a post on the downsides of multitasking:

Keep your kids on task. Limit them to one screen and one activity at a time (especially when they’re doing schoolwork), and reward them for sticking to it.

Model balanced media habits. Show your kid how you want him to use media by practicing what you preach. That includes not interrupting conversations with technology.

Co-view or co-play. Ask your kid to show you what she’s watching and playing. Sharing and explaining something challenges kids to think more deeply.

Establish media-free times and zones. Explain that at certain times of the day and in certain places in the house, media is not welcome. Use those times and places to focus on one thing. Kids need time away from stimuli to help them learn to focus.

Help your kid increase his ability to concentrate. Whatever activity she’s engaged in, encourage her to think or focus for one more minute.

If you are an adult who thinks that he or she can multitask, I encourage you to check out the Infomagical  Bootcamp from the folks at the Note to Self podcast.  I wrote about this back at the beginning of 2016 and came away a huge proponent of single-tasking.  If there is only one part of this challenge that you try, make it the single-task challenge. It’s the day-one challenge and you can hear the 11-minute overview here.

The exact route you take to ensuring a healthy balance for you and your family does not really matter. The most important thing is that your family is having face-to-face conversations about the role technology is playing in your lives.   By the way, when you and the people you live with are all home together, do you spend more time communicating with people online or communicating face-to-face with the people you live with?  Just wondering…



What Are You Doing About Infomania and FOMO?

As someone who spends a lot of time utilizing technological resources and trying to support educators who are trying to integrate them in a meaningful way with students, I also spend a lot of time wondering about what the perfect balance might be between using technology and not using technology. To be even more specific, I wonder if there is any way to know for sure how much time people waste online versus how much of their time is productive. I know that I have had times where I have suffered from fear of missing out (FOMO) and I wonder how much others suffer from this and how much it might be distracting them from the task at hand.
Living in a time where Digital Literacy is a critical component of our work in schools, we need to ensure that we are raising student awareness of their own behaviors. Of course to do this, we need have an awareness of our own propensity to be sidetracked by FOMO.  Do you get anxious if you are away from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, or some game-based app for a short period of time?  If so, you may be suffering from Infomania which is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the compulsive desire to check or accumulate news and information, typically via mobile phone or computer.”
It this is ringing a bell with you, I encourage you to jump on board with the Infomagical project from Manoush Zomorodi and the Note to Self podcast team.  Check out the statistics below that the Note to Self team collected and take 25 minutes to listen to the podcast below on the Infomagical movement.  A discussion surrounding Infomania needs to be a healthy part of our digital literacy curriculum so that our students can lead a more productive and satisfying existence. 
In a survey of nearly 2,000 Note to Self listeners:  
  • 60 percent said they feel like the amount of effort they must exert to stay up-to-date on a daily basis is “taxing.” Another 15 percent said it’s downright “impossible.”
  • 4 out of 5 said information overload affects their ability to learn.
  • 1 out of 3 said information overload was affecting their close relationships.