Throughout my Graduate studies, my colleagues and I have been exposed to a myriad of new technologies which can be used in both our professional and personal lives. We are taught how to implement these technologies in the classroom in order to foster student growth and development. When deployed correctly, integrating technology into the classroom can be extremely successful. Students are constantly using technology outside of school as well. However, I do wonder when people 'unplug' from their technology. Has our incredible access to technology adversely affected our lives?
Most of us would agree that technology has improved our lives. We are able to collaborate with people all around the world, information is at our fingertips and learning can take place for any one at anytime. However, many people take this interaction to extreme levels. There are documented cases of people spending so much time playing a video game that they forget to eat or sleep. Others wake up and automatically reach for their phones to check their voicemails, e-mails and texts. Many people automatically whip out their phones to Twitter or take video of an accident instead of calling 911. Some people have used technology to extend their business hours from 9-5 to every waking minute of the day. Some people develop an obsession over time with their technology, which easily becomes unhealthy.
During the school day, technology can easily become a major hindrance to the educational process. A few years ago, my school had what I liked to call "The War of the Cellphones". As our students began to become proficient with cell phones, it became evident that their use became a problem during the school day. We did not have problems with the students having their cell phones with them or using them during the day. The students were responsible with their cell phones until one day. Two students began an argument which the faculty defused and thought was resolved. However, one student texted their family to tell them about the incident. Their family showed up at the end of the day with the intention fighting the other student. The principal was able to break up the fight on the front steps of the school. Soon after, we discovered how the student communicated with their family during the day and needed to address the issue. Thus began the battle for control of technology. Faculty would fight back with detentions, parent meetings, etc. Students would become more sneaky about using cell phones or try to bypass the content filters while using computers during the day. It ended up become more of a hassle throughout the year as opposed to being a conduit for learning.
Moderation would seem to be the key to this. Some tech-savvy parents do this in regards to console video games by setting the built in timer or set a schedule on their X-Boxes to limit time playing games. Others disable functions of their kid's cell phones in order to save money and prevent their kids from becoming dependent on their phones. Even Disney's Phineas and Ferb Cyberspace Rules of the Road listed getting outside and playing as the last and most important rule. Of course, it is very easy to say, "I can stop whenever I want to." or "I don't need to read my e-mails every 5 minutes". Since this technology has become such an integral part of life, how do we, as teachers, find ways to teach parents and students balance between technology use and life without a device in our hands?