Tech Break vs Tech Break

According to Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, there are only two states for children these days. “They are either asleep or online … even if they wake up in the middle of the night they go online,”
This is scary isn’t it?

In an article published in The Guardian, Stephen Carrick-Davies tells how his family started having a day per week without technology after how his ten-year-old son said “I think we should have one day a week where no one looks at a screen,” “I think it would make us more imaginative as a family.”

There is an increasing number of books and articles suggesting that technology diminish us and that it is time to unplug:
. “technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human” (Alone Together by MIT professor Sherry Turkle)
. “the internet is altering the way we think to make us less capable of digesting large and complex amounts of information, such as books and magazine articles” (The Shallows by Nicholas Carr)
. “ It has made people lazy and enshrined the illusion that clicking a mouse is a form of activism equal to real world donations of money and time. (The Net Delusion by Evgeny Morozov)
. “the intellectual future of the US looks dim” (The Dumbest Generation by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein)
. “The proliferation of communication tools poses a problem of self control in the modern world” (We Have Met the Enemy by Daniel Akst)

Saturday, March 24, was The National Day Of Unplugging where millions of people around the world took the time to slow down and enjoy a day without electronic device.
I sounded like these “No-My-Car-No-Hi” in Japan (the Japanese version of Car-free Day!) or “No Alcohol Day”, suggesting that we need a day to “detox” from time to time.

We are all more or less dependent to technology, and some experience withdrawal symptoms when deprived from device for a long period of time.
It means, of course, that some of our students suffer. How do they cope? What can we do?
“In a forthcoming book, iDisorder, Larry Rosen argues that all our tech gadgets and applications are turning us into basket-cases suffering from versions of obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit syndrome.”
But he offers another approach to help students concentrate instead of having their mind wandering about texting or twitting:

“rather than taking a break from technology, you give yourself permission to embrace technology for a particular amount of time, be it one minute or 15. “It works amazingly,” he says.”

I must confess that I stared at the screen and shook my head when I read this. I took a break for cup of tea and thought “well, actually, why not? If there is a problem, we are not going to solve it by burying our head in the sand don’t we? After all, elementary teachers sometimes let their students jump around when they feel that they get unsettled.”
Larry Rosen adds “The trick is to be disciplined and only take tech breaks at predefined intervals.” This could be implemented easily during a school day.
I guess that this kind of tech breaks could also help students manage their time it would give them the opportunity to experience how much they can do in a given among of time.

Kim Cofino gives us a great example of prevention instead of treatment by organizing information sessions in her school community called “Living With Laptops” , with tips and links to “to strategize ways to help our children maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle”.
one of her advice is “to remember that all of the adults in our children’s lives are role models”
What example do I give to my students when they are browsing the shelves and I sit in front of my computer and only acknowledge them when they come to me to check out their books?
I should make a rule for next year to move around during break times.

We also started working on classes on fair use and usage agreement for next school year and I am thinking of adding a project on time on time management to this program, with the help of United World College South East Asia and Jeffrey Kalmikoff’s lists of applications to manage time online.

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3 Responses to Tech Break vs Tech Break

  1. Kim Cofino says:

    I think we need to be really careful when we use the word addiction. Addiction means that you are unable to stop yourself from doing something, that you feel unhappy when you’re not doing it, that when people ask you what you’re doing, you lie to cover up the fact that you’re doing something you know you shouldn’t be. Often times what we see in students, especially in our schools, is a lack of focus on balance – especially when there are no alternatives to technology promoted at home. This doesn’t mean students are addicted, it means they still need guidance for what to do and how to spend their time, they need to learn time management and balance. This is why we need to work with parents to help them understand that free time doesn’t always mean screen time.

  2. Avatar of amthinnes amthinnes says:

    Yes, addiction is a strong word and I just replaced “addiction” with “dependent”. I may be a bit edgy on computer use those days as I have to deal with dragging two teenagers out of their online world everyday (not too bad, but bad enough to be annoying). I feel like my mom felt when we stayed hours on the phone or spent our days the nose in a book!
    Anyway, my family found that two things really help relaxing:
    – Discuss and sign Acceptable Use Agreements (Sean and Brendan’s one works just fine! link to )
    – Try to have one tech free evening a week and plan fun stuffs to do together (we need to be imaginative sometimes)
    Thanks for your comment.



  3. Grace Yamato says:

    I also shook my head when I read Larry Rosen’s statement too. I think finding a balance with technology is just as important as using technology. I embrace technology but I also know how to have down time away from it. Once I went on a family vacation to Hawaii for three or four days, I debated a long time on whether or not I should take my computer. I finally decided to leave it at home, and I didn’t have any other device with me to check email or go online. I found it to be liberating, but I also discovered that I had experienced some anxiety over not being able to go online the first day or two. My son also had a very difficult time with it. We ended up going to an Apple store, just so my son could check his messages with his girlfriend. I really feel like a “Tech Break” should mean a break from tech and not give time for tech on a scheduled basis by interrupting what you are working on.

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