Recently, I have had a lot of conversations with people about integrating technology into education. In these conversations there has been a lot of discussion about using technology as one of the tools that helps students reach understanding. I agree with that. But, what I keep coming back to is my fear that technology will replace the things that I think all children need; art, time outdoors, music, time to create, time to talk, etc. After I mentioned using iPads in elementary classrooms a colleague of mine stated, “What will they replace? Reading with real books?” She has a valid point.
What I am beginning to realize is that perhaps children need to be taught how and why to unplug. (I also think that adults could use this lesson too.) According to Dr. Larson in the article “Plugged in Families,” “Parents need to focus on how to help kids operate independently with technology and give them the skills they need to deal with it.” I think that teachers can discuss and practice this in classrooms too.
In the same article referenced above there was a list of the documented effects of too much technology for children. That list included; decreased interest in school, obesity, lower self esteem, boredom, sadness, aggression, and diminished capability to interact with people face-to-face.
While there may be negative effects for not unplugging, there won't be too many people that are going to argue anymore that children shouldn’t be using technological tools in school. We can all agree that children need to learn how to communicate and collaborate fluently with all of these tools.
The article, “Encouraging Tech-Loving Students to “Unplug,” speaks about students at Amherst College unplugging for one day. The Assistant Dean noticed that students were more “plugged in” than they used to be and more overwhelmed by everything they were doing. She, with other interested students and staff, is coordinating “Amherst Unplugged,” on April 8th. In the article it stated that this day is supposed to raise awareness to the “potentially harmful effects of excessive use of technology.” I appreciated the tone of the article. It doesn’t bash technology. In fact, at the end of the article the Assistant Dean is quoted saying, “...technology adds to our lives in many positive ways...They (the students) could discover that it (unplugging) actually feels like a relief.” I agree with her.
It all comes back to balance. This is such a thing as, “too much of a good thing.” We have to not only teach our students and children how to balance the amount of technology in their lives, but we have to model balancing a limited about of technology in our own lives. Researching this issue a bit is a good reminder for me that sometimes I need to unplug too.
This Friday, April 8th, my class and I will be unplugging and going for a bike ride to the beach...
Encouraging Tech-Loving Students to “Unplug.” Amherst College News Bank. March 28, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2011. https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/news/news_releases/2011/03/node/305293
Plugged-In Families: The Art of Balancing Technology in Your Family. MetroFamily August 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2011. www.metrofamilymagazine.com/ plugged-in-families-the-art-of-balancing-technology-in-your-family