Every week I get an alert on my phone letting me know how much time I’m spending, on average, every day on my hand-held device. It also lets me know whether my average is trending up (more time than the previous week) or down. And every week I’m shocked and somewhat dismayed at the total, and frequently find myself wondering what else I could be doing with that time, and what I used to do with all that time before I got tethered to my phone. I then, frequently think about the time that’s not being calculated in that total that I spend on my desktop computer at school, and on my laptop at home, and I consider whether this time is adding value to my life or the lives of those around me.
I also find myself considering how much time our kids are spending on phones, tablets, computers, game systems and the like. And then, as I do for myself, I wonder what else they might be doing if they were not occupied by electronics. When my own daughters were young, we bought our first desktop computer. It was an Apple Macintosh – one of the big, turquoise cube-like plastic models. To this day, I find myself wondering whether my younger daughter’s fascination with all things turquoise came from that machine! From their first opportunity to play “Treasure Math Storm” they were hooked! As the technology became more sophisticated, they moved on to Game Boys, then flip phones and iPods, and as they entered college they got their first laptops.
I know it’s useless to try to turn back the clock in hopes that our kids can have a childhood free from the allure of smart phones, Google, and Minecraft. If my now 30-somethings couldn’t do it then, certainly young people growing up now would have an even harder time. But just as our own phones remind us to monitor our usage, so we need to teach our children to monitor theirs. We also need to consider not just when, but how, they are using technology. Within the past few weeks I have had to deal with instances of cyber-bullying, hate speech posted on group texting chats, and students inappropriately using tablets during class time. The use of technology is requiring more maturity than many of our children possess. There are clearly no hard and fast rules, and every family must make their own judgments for their own kids, but I urge you to consider limiting your children’s use and monitoring the content frequently.
* * * * * * * *
As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to make sure I remember to express my appreciation to everyone in our community who contributes to the education of our children. Our dedicated office staff and custodians; our wonderful teachers, aides, and support staff; and our amazing parent community who gives of their time, financial resources, and emotional support. We truly are a partnership and we’re so lucky to work together to support our kids. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you are able to rest, enjoy your family and friends, and remember all we have to be thankful for.